By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Polls open at 7:00 am for the Republican Special Election Primary in House District 104.
Republican voters in Alabama state House District 104 get to choose between: Susan Hightower, Nathan Davis, Margie Wilcox, Ralph Carmichael, and Charlie Plyler as their representative in Montgomery.
Nathan Davis is an operations manager for an air conditioning distributor. Davis ran in 2010 against then incumbent Rep. Jim Barton and won over 34% of the Republican Primary vote.
Davis said in a written statement, “I’m running for the exact same reason I ran last time. I’m seriously worried about the future of my children and our country. I’m an optimist and a realist. I cannot ignore Washington and the national debt and as a state representative, you should represent voters of 104 and the state of Alabama. I’m a big believer in the 10th Amendment and Constitution and it’s going to be my priority to do as much as I can to refute federal mandates and intrusions in our lives.”
Davis has been married for three years to his wife, Svitlana, and has a new son as well as a son from a previous marriage. Davis has been a vocal critic of the controversial common core standards and supports the Alabama Accountability Act. Davis said that if a school is ot viable then it should close. “Why keep a stone school afloat with taxpayer money when we can send them to a school more qualified to teach them?”
Davis graduated with a degree in History and Political Science from the University of Mobile. Davis is a supporter of drug testing welfare recipients. Davis is is a member of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.
Charlie Plyler is a realtor and is formerly automobile dealership manager. Plyler said on his website,
“While the country’s political and economic situations are in complete disarray, I believe that the state, our area in particular, has positioned itself to take advantage of a rare opportunity. I am very optimistic about our outlook: IF we continue to focus on job creation, not just the large companies like Airbus, EADS and Austal, but also the small businesses that make up 49% of all Alabama jobs (we need them all). I will be a friend of small business and will do everything possible to remove some of the burdens that your bureaucracy has placed on them. And IF we focus on a high quality of life for our residents, we will continue to attract people to the state, not only in the form of tourism, but additional residents. That is more people purchasing homes and more people paying taxes.”
Plyler warned. “But what if we lose focus and individual politicians start trying to grandstand and make a name for themselves (usually on legislation that little chance of passing or not be challenged in the courts), that will hurt or state’s image with national and international companies and reduce our chances to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Plyler promised, “If elected, I will be a responsive, responsible, and realistic voice for the people of House District 104. I believe addressing the issues that face Alabamians and resolving them with proper solutions are more important any political win. I am not a person that craves attention or needs the spotlight, but I do have a reputation for getting things done. Before starting my real estate career, I was the new car manager at Tameron Honda in Daphne. When Tameron purchased Honda By The Bay, they invited me to become the new car manager. The dealership was only selling 30 new cars per month and a few pre-owned at the time. We were able to increase that number to over 300 new and used vehicles and build the new dealership on the interstate. We did not do that because I am a great salesperson. We did it because I helped to build a great team that focused provided great service, and I am a very good negotiator and mediator. Successful negotiating is not drawing a line in the stand and just saying no! It is by know where the line is and starting far enough behind it so that you get exactly what you want but the other side still feels good about the deal.”
Plyler supports term limits and says that he is strongly pro-Life. Plyler also favors property rights, early detection of autism, coastal insurance reform, promoting community colleges and trade schools, auditing universities to make sure tuition rates are justified, promoting tourism, and improving the state’s image.
Margie Wilcox is a prominent business owner who own cab companies and airport transport companies. The Theodore businesswoman is staunchly pro-Life and supports the traditional family.
Wilcox has raised $25,061 in campaign contributions and is just barely second to Susan Hightower. The other three candidates have raised much less.
Wilcox said on her website, “By ensuring that our parks are clean and safe and that our police have the resources and the laws to fight crime we can keep families together and our children safe. We need a stronger focus on families!” Wilcox is a charter member of St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church.
If elected Wilcox promises to reduce the size of government, publish most government documents on the web, and strengthen Alabama’s ethic laws. Wilcox said on her website:
“Just a few years ago our republican leadership did a great job in passing new laws to improve our trust and confidence in elected leadership. Unfortunately, the loop holes have been found. Double dippers are still double dipping and the old revolving door is spinning even faster. I am a cheerleader for the conservative leadership in our state and I want to join them with a push to close those holes and keep the promise to be the most honest and transparent leadership in the history of Alabama!”
Wilcox is a graduate of Leadership Mobile, a former member of the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee and has been very active in the Business Council of Alabama and is a Past President of National Association of Women Business Owners.
Susan Hightower is a realtor, small business owner, a grandmother and the wife of state Senator Bill Hightower (R). Hightower has been endorsed by the Alabama Forestry Association, the Alabama Alliance Against Abortion, and the Alabama Retail Association. Hightower has raised over $25,000 in campaign contributions mostly from Political Action Committees.
Susan Hightower is the owner of: Wee Exchange and Little Monkey Toes. She is also a licensed real estate broker. On her campaign website, Hightower said that she believes there are many viable options to educate our children, and parents should be able to decide which alternative is the best choice for their child and their family. Hightower promises that some of the issues she will address as a legislator include: coastal Insurance Reform, facilitating community action groups such as Southern Skyline Community, bringing more industry into South Mobile County, nurturing small businesses, decrease government, and education.
Ralph Carmichael is a small businessman, a daycare center operator, a retired pastor, and former missionary. He has also worked for Ford and for the West Bay Christian Center. Carmichael is among a growing number of Black conservatives who are running as Republicans in Alabama. The Alabama Republican Party is hopeful that that translates into more Alabama Blacks voting Republican in future elections.
Carmichael said on Facebook, “The special election for House District 104 is Tuesday, October 15. If you want a balanced budget, a representative who will represent ALL the residents of House District 104; cast your vote for me. I believe my experience in business, education background and desire to serve the residents of this district makes me the right choice. A vote for me, is a vote for you.”
The Polls will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on Tuesday.
The winner of the Republican Primary will still have to face Democrat Stephen Carr II. There is no Democratic Primary today because only Carr qualified to run as a Democrat.
The Special General Election will be held on Dec 3rd unless a Republican Primary runoff is necessary, then the runoff will be in December and the Special General Election will be on January 28.
Trump Truck and boat parades this weekend
As Election Day draws near, Alabama Republicans are excited about promoting the re-election of Donald J. Trump as President and the election of Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate. This weekend two pro-President Trump events are happening in the state. There will be a truck parade from Ashland to Phenix City on Saturday sponsored by the Clay County Republican Party, while there will also be a boat parade on Wilson Lake in the Shoals sponsored by the Colbert County Republican Party on Sunday.
The pickup trucks will assemble at the Ashland Industrial Park in Clay County, 8240 Hwy 9, Ashland. There is a pre-departure rally at 10:00 a.m. central standard time. The trucks will depart at 11:00 a.m. and then proceed on a parade route that will take them into the bitterly contested swing state of Georgia. The Trump Pickup Parade will wind through east Alabama and West Georgia traveling through LaGrange and Columbus before concluding near the Alabama/Georgia line in Phenix City, 332 Woodland Drive, Phenix City at approximately 2:00 p.m. central time. Speakers will begin at 3:00. Trump flags will be on sale at the event.
The Phenix Motorsports Park will be hosting what sponsor hope could possibly the world’s largest Pickup Tuck parade in U.S. history that is routing over 50 mile through Georgia in effort to “pickup” President Trump’s numbers in GA.
A number dignitaries have been invited to address the Phenix City rally, including Coach Tuberville. Former State Sen. Shadrack McGill, Trump Victory Finance Committee member former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper Jr., and Paul Wellborn, the President and CEO of the largest Family owned Kitchen Cabinet manufacture in the USA are among the featured speakers who have committed to speak at the event.
Entertainment will be provided by: Charity Bowden, an up and coming country music singer who was the runner up on “The Voice”. Charity will sing ‘I am Proud to be an American’ as well as songs from her Voice performances. The McGill Girls will also perform. The three beautiful and talented sisters will be singing patriotic songs in three part harmony. Geoff Carlisle, a professional DJ will be keeping the crowd pumped with music and entertainment.
Following the speakers and the entertainment there will Trump truck-vs- Joe Bidden truck races down the drag strip for the finale.
The Northwest Alabama boat parade will be on Sunday. The boats will gather at 2:00 p.m. near Turtle Point and then the flotilla will parade around the open waters of Wilson Lake til 3_00 p.m.. There will be a contest for best decorated Trump boats.
Trump supporters have held a number of large boat parades across the state to show their support for the re-election of Pres. Trump.
Boat parade sponsors say that this parade will be: pro-American, pro-law enforcement, pro-military.
COVID-19 hospitalizations, new cases continue to rise
The number of rising hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alabama is a concerning sign of a possible coming surge of the disease, state health experts said Friday. Alabama hospitals were caring for 888 coronavirus patients Friday, the highest number since Sept 9.
UAB Hospital was caring for around 80 COVID-19 inpatients Friday afternoon, said Dr. Rachael Lee, an infectious disease specialist at UAB, speaking to reporters Friday. UAB Hospital hasn’t had that many coronavirus inpatients since Aug. 18, when the disease was surging statewide.
“We have been dealing with this since March, and I think it’s easy for us to drop our guard,” Lee said.
Alabama added 3,852 new coronavirus cases on Friday, but 1,287 of them were older positive antigen tests, conducted in June through October and submitted to ADPH by a facility in Mobile, according to the department. Still, Alabama’s daily case count has been increasing, concerning health officials already worried that as the weather turns colder and the flu season ramps up, Alabama could see a surge like the state had in July.
Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily cases was 1,247 on Friday, the highest it’s been since Sept 4. Over the last 14 days, Alabama has added 17,451 new COVID-19 cases.
Friday’s inclusion of those older positive test results throws off the day’s percent positivity, by Thursday the state’s percent of tests that were positive was nearly 16 percent. Public health officials say it should be at or below five percent or cases are going undetected.
The state added 16 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, bringing to total confirmed deaths statewide to 2,859. Over the last two weeks, 206 deaths were reported in the state. Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily deaths on Friday was 15.
Alabama state health officer Dr. Scott Harris told APR by phone Friday called the rising new cases and hospitalizations “worrisome.”
Harris noted the data dump of older confirmed cases in Friday’s data, but said “but nevertheless, I think it’s clear our numbers are going up.”
Harris said it’s not yet clear what’s causing the continued spread, but said it may be due at least in part to larger private gatherings. ADPH staff has mentioned a few outbreaks association with such gatherings, but Harris said it’s hard to know for certain if that’s the major driver in the state’s rising numbers.
“It’s football season and the holidays are coming up and school is back in session,” Harris said. “I think people are just not being as safe as they were.”
Harris noted that on ADPH’s color-coded, risk indicator dashboard, red counties, which denotes counties with rising cases and percent positivity, the 17 red counties on Friday were distributed across the state.
“So there’s not one event, or even a handful of events. It seems like there’s just a lot of things happening in a lot of places,” Harris said.
Alabama’s rising numbers are mirrored in many states. The U.S. reported more than 71,600 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, nearing the country’s record highs, set in July.
Birmingham approves $1.3 million contract for real-time crime center technology
Woodfin repeated that facial recognition capabilities will not be used in accordance with the contract.
The Birmingham City Council approved a five-year, $1.3 million contract with Motorola this week to provide new technology for the police department’s real-time crime center amid unease and public concern over the potential use of facial recognition software within the new systems.
Mayor Randall Woodfin insisted in his remarks made before the council that the new technology is meant to integrate existing hardware and technology inside the real-time crime center. “You’re not buying any additional new equipment,” he said, “You’re buying something to integrate all those systems.”
The software suite includes Motorola Solutions’s CommandCentral Aware, a system that aggregates video, image and other data information into one interface, and BriefCam, a “video synopsis” system that will further integrate and analyze information from Birmingham’s ShotSpotter systems, public cameras and police body cameras.
Briefcam offers facial recognition capabilities, which was the main concern of community members speaking before the council, and the risk that use of the technology could disproportionately affect Black people. Facial recognition technology has a record of racial bias and misidentifies Black people at rates five to 10 times higher than white people.
“Despite assurances that there will not be facial recognition implemented at this phase that does not prevent it from being implemented in the future,” said Joseph Baker, Founder of I Believe in Birmingham and one of the Birmingham residents voicing concern on the proposal. “I believe that this software, if fully implemented, can easily lead to violations of unreasonable searches.”
Another resident who spoke against the resolution was Byron Lagrone, director of engineering at medical software solutions company Abel Healthcare Enterprises. Lagrone pointed to IBM and Amazon as examples of companies that have halted or abandoned facial recognition and object tracking software altogether over racial bias concerns.
“The prevailing attitude, among technical people is this technology is not effective, and it causes high amounts of harm for next to no gain,” Lagrone said.
Woodfin repeated that facial recognition capabilities will not be used in accordance with the contract.
“It’s explicit in this contract that facial recognition will not be used,” Woodfin said, “[If] facial recognition wants to be used in the future of this city. It would have to be approved by this body. … The mayor’s office or the police department doesn’t have unilateral power to use facial recognition. That is not part of what our contractual relationship is with Motorola.”
Woodfin also clarified that the total $1.3 million price of the contract will not be paid as a lump sum but spread out over the five-year commitment.
The city council voted 8 to 1 to approve the contract, with District 8 Councilman Steven Hoyt speaking in favor of the use of facial recognition capabilities.
“You can’t say, ‘I’m going to build a house but I’m not going to use the restroom,’” Hoyt said. “If it’s in the house, you’re going to use the restroom. … If it has the capability of facial recognition, guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to use it. I’m going to vote for it because I know we’ve got to have every tool we can garner to fight crime, because it’s out of hand.”
Hoyt also suggested a review of the information collected by the new system apparatus.
“I do think, for the public’s sake, we need to have some way we review that and see how it’s being used,” Hoyt said. “We need that to go along with this.”
District 3 Councilwoman Valerie A. Abbott — who said she was the victim of a burglary the day before the vote — echoed the mayor’s insistence that the facial recognition capabilities would not be deployed unless authorized by the city council, reading a letter from Motorola stating “in order to enable facial recognition, Motorola will require an addendum or change order to the contract,” which would have to come before a public meeting of the city council.
“I too would not want facial recognition,” Abbot said, “I’m voting in favor of this because the majority of my constituents are telling me they want more and better policing, capture of criminals, prevention of crime.”
District 5 Councilman Darrell O’Quinn was the lone no vote among the near-unanimous city council, stating that he had “some reservations about how we’re doing this and will vote my conscience.” Later, O’Quinn was quoted in BirminghamWatch, saying his vote reflected his concerns about “taking on a new debt obligation in the midst of a projected $63 million shortfall in revenue.”
Opinion | Doug Jones’s pathway to victory: Substance over lies
Jones said his work in the Senate should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity.
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones believes voters will ultimately see through Tommy Tuberville’s lazy campaign and lies, and that enough of them will be moved by his work over the last two years to send him back to D.C.
Jones’ comments came during a lengthy interview on the Alabama Politics This Week podcast. He also discussed his plans to address some of Alabama’s most pressing issues and also praised Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican.
But it was Jones’ comments about Alabama voters — and whether too many of them are incapable of moving away from the Republican Party — that were most interesting. Jones still believes there are open-minded voters in the state, and that there isn’t enough attention being paid to polls showing a growing dissatisfaction in Alabama with President Donald Trump.
“There are a number of things that Donald Trump has done that people (in Alabama) don’t agree with,” Jones said. “There are a number of things that he’s done that’s hurt Alabama and that they’re not OK with. That’s where I come in.”
Jones said his work in the Senate, where he’s sponsored the most bipartisan legislation over the last two years, should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity.
“I tell everyone, you owe it to yourself to look at every candidate and every issue,” Jones said. “I do that. I’ve been a Democrat all my life but I don’t think that I have ever pulled a straight lever. Because I look at every issue. I will tell you that there have been times that I didn’t vote for people who are Democrats for whatever reason — I just couldn’t do it. I think we owe it to ourselves to do that.”
Jones had the perfect example to drive the point home.
“Y’all all know our state auditor, Jim Zeigler? Jim wasn’t always a Republican. Jim’s first runs for office were as a Democrat.
“I rest my case.”
You can listen to the full interview at the Alabama Politics This Week website, or you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.