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House District 97 Special Election Today

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Polls open at 7:00 am today in House District 97 in Mobile to fill the seat vacated by the passage of former state representative Yvonne Kennedy.  Businesswoman Adline Clarke faces attorney Karlos Finley in the Democratic Party primary runoff special election.

Adline Clarke received 40.4 percent of the vote and Karlos Finley received just 24.4 percent of the vote in the Democratic Party Primary where seven candidates crowded the field. The winner of the Democratic Party runoff today will be the next representative because no Republican even qualified to run in the majority Black House District which is considered a safe Democratic seat. Only 9.6% of eligible voters took the time to vote in the early special primary election.

Legislation introduced by state representative Mike Ball (R) from Madison if passed would end similar future primary runoffs where a candidate (in this case Adline Clark) get at least 25% of the vote.

Rep. Ball told ‘The Montgomery Advertiser’ that the outcomes do not change.  The candidate who gets the most votes in the primary wins the primary runoff and voter turnout decreases.  Clarke supporter hope that that rule holds true today, while Finley supporters hope that the voters who supported the other five candidates will support him this time.

Adline Clarke said in a written statement, “For over three decades, I have had the honor and privilege of serving the Mobile community as a newspaper journalist, entrepreneur, agency administrator, and as a community volunteer. Representing you in District 97 would be an extension of my decades of service to a host of community service organizations, including Sickle Cell Disease Association, the YWCA, Mercy Medical, and Senior Citizens Services.”
Karlos Finley said in an interview with the South Alabama Trial Lawyers Association, “The overwhelming issues facing the citizens of our district are jobs and education. These issues are so interrelated its impossible to talk about one without the other. In order for our city grow in a healthy way, we must address economic development. Jobs and education are the key to this issue. We are all hoping for a bright future with Airbus coming to Brookley Field. I would like to also see some of the tier one and tier two suppliers located in some of the abandoned buildings on the north side of Downtown. There is good ingress and egress to these locations and the businesses would create jobs in our district as well as throughout Mobile. Also, that would help to rid the area of abandoned dilapidated properties. Bishop State Community College and Brookley Field Aviation College are excellent institutions for training skilled trades persons to fill the positions created by the new industry.”

Clarke said on Facebook, “”The story of my life is I have stepped up and accepted challenges as they’ve been placed before me.”

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Finley said, “In that the HD 97 is such a diverse district, there are many important issues facing us. Environmental issues such as water quality in the north and south of the district are important issues. The Dog River Watershed and the Three Mile and One Mile Creeks have pollution problems that need to be addressed. I attended a meeting of the Dog River Clearwater Revival and learned that they are testing a litter trap in order to catch debris running off into the river. There is a need to educate the people in our community and make them aware that many of the ditches and creeks that run throughout the city drain into the Dog River. As for the Three Mile and One Mile Creeks, there are environmental concerns with erosion to the cap that covers the old Hickory Street landfill/dump. This is an issue that must have continued monitoring. There is also the Mobile Gas, “Tar pit” located at the corner of MLK Ave. and Broad St. The area is fenced off, but we need in depth investigations in the nature of what contaminations are present there. Homeowners insurance has been an issue that many constituents have voiced major concerns about. I would urge all homeowners to take note of the recently passed Clarity Law and discuss it with their State Representative. Progress has been made in the area of insurance reform, but there is still a lot of work to do to make sure coverage is affordable and beneficial. Public safety is a real concern in the district. There are issues within some areas of the district regarding prostitution, drug infestation, theft and home invasions just to name a few. In response to these issues, I would like to work with community leaders to engage law enforcement to have more officers patrolling on foot and bicycles. This will foster a greater interaction and stronger relationships between patrol officers and residents in the community. Finally, the blighted properties across the district are also a significant problem. This issue encompasses both businesses and residential. This is a matter I would like to work with municipal and county officials to remedy. We could explore raising the minimum standards of the condition a property must be kept in. Because of my experience in so many different areas, I believe as a representative of House District 97 I can help address these issues.”

Clarke was endorsed by Patsy Dow (the wife of former Mobile Mayor Mike Dow), “I support Adline Clarke because I know she will honorably and effectively represent the citizens of District 97. She is an exceptionally hard-working, progressive-thinking, and compassionate person and I trust her to speak for me and the residents of District 97 in Montgomery. We need Adline Clarke working for us.” Clarke also had the endorsement of several members of Yvonne Kennedy’s family.

Clarke said, “House District 97 is dear to my heart. I have lived and worked in the district for most of my adult life. There is a dire need for us to have effective and honest leadership in order for District 97, our city, county and state to continue making positive strides.”

Clarke owns ‘Black Classic Books and Gifts’ and ‘Jamabalaya.’ She was also the former owner of a temporary job service, Norrell Staffing Services. She currently serves as Senior Vice President of Business and Community Relations for Mobile Development Enterprises, a subsidiary of the Mobile Housing Board. Clarke is also a former reporter for the Mobile Press-Register.

Finley is a partner in the law firm Boteler, Finley and Wolfe and is a former Mobile County prosecutor.
The polls will open at 7:00 am on Tuesday and will close at 7:00 pm.  Voter participation is expected to be very light.

The winner will fill the unexpired term of Dr. Yvonne Kennedy who recently passed away after a brief illness. Kennedy served in the Alabama House of Representatives for 32 years.  There is no Republican candidate so the winner of the Democratic Party runoff will win the seat.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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