Meet The Candidates

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Photos by Michelle Key/Opelika Observer State Rep. Jeremy Gray partnered with the Lee County Voters League and Youth Organization on Saturday to host an event aimed toward encouraging citizens to get out and vote. Volunteers assisted absentee voters by handing out absentee voting applications and making copies of their identification.

By Hannah Lester
hlester@opelikaobserver.com

The Lee County Voter’s League provided residents with a chance to learn more about the candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot during a Virtual Candidate Forum held on Oct. 29. 

Local Election:

There were three candidates who spoke who are running for seats on the Lee County Commission. 

District 1 Commissioner Sheila Eckman is not running for reelection and has two candidates vying for her seat. 

Doug Cannon and Lindsey Bickerstaff, the two candidates for District 1, either spoke or had representatives at the forum. Canon’s daughter, Brittany Dement, spoke on his behalf and did not stay for the questions portion of the forum. 

Dement said she was excited to vote for Joe Biden and other democratic candidates but believes county commission is not an office that holds strongly to party lines. 

She, along with other candidates, discussed racial issues and disparities as a part of the election. 

“My dad has not only seen racial disparities and racial struggles that happen day in and day out just in our backyard in Lee County and in Auburn, he’s experiencing it through me [Dement is the adoptive mother of a child of color].”

Dement said that Cannon would want to support the police departments, divisions and Lee County Sheriff’s office with competitive pay if elected. 

Bickerstaff said he is running his campaign differently. 

“I’m running my campaign on prayer, love and innovation,” he said. “So to be successful with things you need prayer.”

Bickerstaff said he believes it is his responsibility to bring the issues that affect the people before the commission, such as the need for more volunteer fire departments.

Napoleon Stringer is running against District 3’s incumbent Commissioner, Gary Long. District 3 encompasses Smiths Station.

“This is my home, this is where I grew up,” Stringer said. “I lived here all my life. I went to school here. I graduated here.”

Stringer said he is qualified because of his knowledge of the county and his experience with legislative bodies in the past. He served for years on the Lee County School Board of Education. 

“I’ve seen our community grow, I’ve seen it move forward,” Stringer said.

The candidate said that he believes many people see commission as only good for working on roads. He said it includes much more than that, however. 

State Election:

Alabama Senator Doug Jones, who is running against Tommy Tuberville, spoke first. 

“I need your help,” Jones said. “This is a tough race, you know that. I’m looking for every vote in every corner of Alabama. You know when I ran in 2017, I ran on trying to talk about kitchen-table issues. Those issues that face you and your family every day. Your health care, your jobs, how much money you can make, your kids education. All of those things that come together that you talk about all the time.”

Jones said that he believes voters need to come together for ‘One Alabama.’ 

“And to do that, to be successful, to represent everybody, you’ve got to listen to folks,” he said. “It’s not a question of just going out and talking, you’ve got to listen. And that’s what we’ve done too.”

The incumbent senator said that health care is in jeopardy with the current administration, including President Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and Jones’ opposition Tommy Tuberville.

“We have tried everything in the world to get this state to expand Medicaid and I’m still pushing.” he said. “… If [the affordable care act] goes away, let me tell you what happens. 957,000 Alabamians who have pre-existing conditions, their health care is in jeopardy.”

Dr. Adia Winfrey, U.S. Representative 3rd Congressional District, spoke second and said she is running on an AEIOU platform.

“The A stands for agriculture and I am focused on expanding what agriculture looks like in Alabama,” Winfrey said. “The average age of a farmer in our state is over 50 years old.”

Winfrey’s second point is E, for education. 

“I am committed to expanding workforce development for adults, but for our children, doing more with career tech as well as college readiness,” she said. 

The I in her platform stands for innovation, the O for opportunity and the U for unity. 

“I truly, truly believe and know that we are stronger together than we could ever be apart,” Winfrey said. 

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