Williams enters circuit judge race

Published 10:06 pm Friday, April 2, 2010

Another Pike County candidate threw his hat in the election ring Friday, as qualifying across the state came to a close.

Joel Lee Williams, local attorney, will compete for the county’s open circuit judge seat as a member of the Democratic Party. He is the only in the party, so he will automatically win the nomination for the November ballot.

Williams will face either Republicans Clif Hastings, Pike County attorney, or Shannon Clark, Coffee County attorney, after one wins the majority in the Republican primary in June.

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While Williams put his name on the ballot the last day of qualifying for election, he said this was not a decision he made hastily.

“I’m in my 30th year now practicing law. I have tried every kind of case imaginable. I’ve prosecuted, defended…represented husbands, represented wives,” Williams said. “I think you have to have that type of practical experience as judge, and I wanted to make that available. Now (voters) have another option.”

Williams said his respect for the judge seat has led to his decision to enter the race.

“You grow up as a lawyer having some degree of respect for a judge. I never in a million years would have dreamed of running for judge if I hadn’t been practicing law for 20 years — now that it’s been 30 years I feel like maybe I’ve grown into the position that I’ve respected for so many years.”

Williams said his law career has led him to practice in all the courthouses in the circuit — Troy, Elba and Enterprise. He also has taught law school for 10 years and said he’s taught both of the Republican candidates for this position.

The judge seat is now held by Circuit Judge Robert Barr, of Troy. Barr announced his retirement officially earlier this year.

Prior to his reign, the Bar Associations of Coffee and Pike Counties made an unwritten “gentleman’s agreement” to always have a judge seated from each of the three courthouses. If Hastings wins in the primary election, there will be two local candidates, but if Clark wins, there is a chance there would be no seated judge in Pike County.

“I respect the practical idea that it makes sense to have a resident judge at each courthouse,” Williams said. “I don’t know that I’m trying to keep (the position) here so much as it is make it available here. The arithmetic is against Pike County, but hopefully at some point the voters will say, ‘We’ve got to hire a judge. Let’s look at the resumes,’ and hopefully my resume would be such the people at the circuit would say, ‘Let’s hire this guy.’”

As qualifying ended Friday, there were several local offices that secured the election unopposed.

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas, D; Coroner Jerry Williams, D; Pike County School Board members Linda Steed, D, and Wyman Botts, R, will all retain their positions. House Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, and Circuit Judge Jeff Kelley, R, will remain in office, as well.

Other local candidates will have to work a little harder for public office.

Two Republican candidates will be running for the Pike and Coffee County District Attorney’s open seat. Tom Anderson, assistant district attorney, and Gary Bradshaw, Coffee County attorney, will compete in the primaries for the spot held now by Gary McAliley, set to retire.

Three Republicans have joined the race against incumbent State Sen. “Walking” Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne. They are Ray Boyles, Ken Barnett and Bryan Taylor.

Likewise, four Republicans will compete to face Congressional Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Montgomery, in the November election. They are Rick Barber, Martha Roby, Stephanie Bell and John Bowling McKinney III.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R, will face primary opposition from N.C. “Clint” Moser. Democrats William G. Barnes and Simone DeMoore will vie for the Senate nomination.

There are several in the race for the state’s highest office — Republicans, Bradley Byrne, Roy Moore, Tim James, Bill Johnson, James Potts, Robert Bentley and Charles Taylor; and Democrats, Artur Davis and Ron Sparks.

State Treasurer Kay Ivey, R, has dropped out of the governor’s race and joined Hank Erwin and Gene Ponder, both Republicans, to compete for the race against Lt. Gov. incumbent Jim Folsom Jr., a Democrat.

Attorney General Troy King, R, will face some opposition against Luther Strange in the primary election, and that victor will face James Anderson, Michel Nicrosi or Giles Perkins in a Democrat opponent.

State Treasurer Republican candidates George Wallace Jr. and Young Boozer will face for the open seat in June. Democrats Charley Grimsley and Jeremy Sherer will vie for the nomination, as well.

Secretary of State Beth Champman, R, will run unopposed in the primary, but she will face Democrat Scott Gilliland come November.

State Auditor Samantha “Sam” Shaw will keep her seat.

The State Commission of Agricultures and Industries is open this election, as well. Republicans Dale Peterson, Dorman Grace and John McMillan will vie for the nomination to run against Glen Zorn, D.

Public Service Commissioner Place 1 Incumbent Jan Cook, D, will face either Chris “Chip” Beeker, Stephen Evans or Twinkle Cavanaugh as a Republican opponent. Cavanaugh ran for the PCS against Lucy Baxley in Nov. 2008 and lost by a narrow margin, the Associated Press reports.

PCS Place 2 Incumbent Susan Parker, a Democrat, will face Chip Brown or Terry Dunn in a Republican November opponent.

The Supreme Court’s Place 1 has its respective party nominees in Kelli Wise, R, and Rhonda Chambers, D.

Supreme Court Place 2 will be sought by incumbent Michael “Mike” Bolin and Tracy W. Cary, Republicans. Its winner will face Tom Edwards, D, in November.

Supreme Court Place 3 Incumbent Tom Parker, R, will face James R. Houts in the primary election. Democrat candidates for the seat are Eric Johnston and Mac Parsons.

Tommy Bryan, R, on the Court of Civil Appeals, and Jim Main, R, on the Court of Criminal Appeals will retain their respective offices.

Bruel Davis will remain the representative of Pike County for the Alabama Republican Party’s Executive Committee.

Both the Pike County Republican and Democratic Party’s executive committee members will remain unopposed.

They are Democratic Party: Moses Batie, Earnest Green, Mary Sneed, Homer Wright, Linda Steed, Tom Green, Virginia Gail Bland Green, Will Oscar Green, Mary Lucille White Bland, Willie Lewis Bland Sr., Charlie Terry, Charlie Harris, Ed Hedden, Jerry Williams, Curtis Blair and Russell Thomas.

Pike County Republican Party executives are: Kimberly May, Donald Lee, Payton Sides, Virginia Sanders, Sesha D. Dunn, D. Lawrence Adams, Sr., Lawrence Bowden, Clifford L. Eubanks, Wesley H. Allen, Jim Medley, Bruel A. Davis, William R. Finlay, Sr., Shirley A. Reddoch, Melissa B. Thomas, Matthew Baker, Kenneth E. Grice, Steve Stroud, Laura L. Beeler, Todd Kreis, Bert Fridlin, Beth B. Rose, Chris E. Rose, Walter J. Cotton, Jr., Thomas E. Haigh, Adam Drinkwater, Donna B. Horn, Jimmy R. Copeland, Martha F. Copeland and Earl Ellis.