By Fred Woods

Five candidates are running for Alabama House of Representatives District 79 seat. This is, of course, the vacancy created by the removal of Mike Hubbard upon his conviction on 12 felony counts of violating state ethics laws.
The special election primary election will be held on Sept. 13 with the general election scheduled for Nov. 29. If a primary run-off is required, that will be Nov. 29 with the general election to be February 7, 2017. There will only be a Republican primary as no Democrats qualified for the seat.
Four Republicans will run in the primary, Jay Connor, Joe Lovvorn, Brett Smith and Sandy Toomer. A fifth, Hal Walker, qualified but later withdrew and announced he would support Lovvorn.
The fifth candidate, Libertarian Auburn University student, Gage Fenwick, must present a petition signed by at least 276 registered voters by Sept. 13 in order to have his name on the Nov. 29 general election ballot.
Connor has been in Auburn all his life.He’s a licensed real estate broker and is running because “we need true, honest and genuine representation in Montgomery.” Connor adds, “We need to focus on things we can control and not get bogged down over policies beyond our control.”
Joe Lovvorn is a Battalion Chief with the Auburn Fire Department. He’s also a realtor and business owner. “I’ve spent my whole life working to  make our community a better place to live and raise a family,” said Lovvorn. “That won’t change if I am elected. I have the experience to make it happen.”
Smith is a founding partner of Huff Smith Law Firm. Smith says he’s running on platform of job creation, opportunity, fighting Washington overreach, restoring control of education system to local educators and protecting our constitutional rights.
Sandy Toomer, who ran against Hubbard two years ago, is a former missionary pilot in Ecuador. He owns Toomer’s Coffee Co. in Auburn. Toomer said he is passionate about such issues as term limits and common core.
Gage Fenwick, the young Libertarian candidate, is not expected to have any difficulty getting sufficient signatures for his petition. Fenwick, an Auburn University junior in Economics, said if elected, he would focus on criminal justice reform and fiscal responsibility. He believes there are too many nonviolent offenders in Alabama prisons. He believes fixing that problem would ease the strain on the general fund as well as the strain on prison overcrowding.