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Republicans head to polls in Senate District 14 special primary

Joseph Barlow, Donna Strong and April Weaver are running in the special Republican primary in Senate District 14.


Republican voters in Senate District 14 go to the polls Tuesday to pick their next state Senator. The district includes parts of Shelby, Bibb and Chilton Counties.

Former state Rep. April Weaver, R-Briarfield; educator Donna Strong; and paralegal Joseph Barlow are all running for the seat that became vacant when former Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, was appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey as director of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Joseph Barlow is a paralegal for a plaintiff’s law firm. He is an Alabama native who was born in Birmingham and grew up in Oak Grove and Hueytown. He and his wife, Laura Kapper Barlow, live in Calera with their dogs. Barlow has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UAB and a Master’s degree in forensic psychology from Liberty University and intends to go to law school.

“I have been dedicated to standing up for individuals since I was a teenager,” Barlow said on his website. “It was then I first dreamed of becoming an attorney to enable me to advocate and assist people with the greatest needs whose voices were not being heard and interests were not being represented. While I am pursuing my dream of becoming an attorney, it is clear to me that this closely aligns with my goal to be the Senator representing residents of District 14. By becoming your public servant, I can be on the frontlines in the fight to make our voices heard.”

“I have dedicated my career to seeking justice and helping people,” Barlow said. “Since my first job in the field of law, I have kept the needs of individuals at the forefront. With this, I know the struggle many Alabamians face day-to-day. So many people are overwhelmed with financial anxiety and daily worry about which bills they can afford to pay, how much gas they can put in their vehicles to make it to work, and what they will be able to feed their families. I have experienced those concerns and challenges and personally understand difficult times. I have felt the frustration towards our government, thinking that they have forgotten citizens’ needs, especially with the increased stresses and problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand the resentment many have developed towards the government and representatives who seem unaware or unconcerned about the daily struggle to survive. During tough times, it seems as if those with the greatest needs are the last to receive help.”

“Sadly, I believe the importance of a party has overcome the people,” Barlow continued. “People are hurting, struggling, and are more in need of assistance than ever. The State of Alabama has great representatives throughout its branches; however, I believe that we need a strong voice — one that speaks for all, one that puts the people’s interest first, and one that truly understands the peoples’ needs.”

Donna Dorough Strong has taught for 32 years in the Shelby County School system. She and her husband have three children.

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“I am from Shelby County, I grew up in Alabama, and I am a conservative Christian,” Strong said. “I think we all know that Alabama can do a better job of educating our kids.”

“Most Alabamians don’t realize the degree to which politics control our public education system,” Strong said. “When everything from class sizes, curriculum programs, school calendars, lunchroom menus, educator salaries, and standardized testing are legislatively mandated, public schooling is largely dictated by career politicians who have never walked in an educator’s shoes.”

“There is an enormous amount of wasteful spending in public education,” Strong said. “Every year millions are spent on purchasing new curriculum kits and inventing new testing for our students, and yet we are still at the bottom of the curve in national learning and academic achievement statistics! Our money needs to go to lowering class sizes and reducing unnecessary paperwork, so that classroom teachers can actually spend more quality, individualized time helping all students reach their maximum potential.”

“We also have enormous inequity in our public schools,” Strong said. “Some schools are very blessed, while other schools struggle to provide what students need. We have schools in Alabama that do not have a resource office or a school nurse. Educators at all grade levels have seen an increase in the number of students who come to school with mental health or behavioral problems. Learning is just too challenging when children are depressed, scared or hungry. Every public school should have the resources needed to provide our children with a safe, encouraging learning environment.”

“If elected I would have to end my 32-year career as an educator to serve as a Representative,” Strong said. “A sheriff, nurse, lawyer or business owner can maintain their career and become a legislator. While I believe this is unjust, it does mean that I will be a full time Representative for my constituents. I will work to ensure I am available to answer phone calls, respond to emails, and attend all meetings, celebrations and ceremonies important in the communities I serve.”

“I also believe that transparency and debate are critical elements in government to ensure that the will of the people is upheld and to prevent corruption,” Strong added. “Alabamians have the right to know what is being planned, discussed and implemented in their House and Senate. Debate in government is the essence of a democratic process. The voices of all voters should be heard and all the votes should then be cast.”

April Weaver is a nurse, a hospital administrator, and a former political appointee of the Trump administration as a regional director for the Department of Health and Human Services. Weaver served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 to 2020 and was the Chair of the House Health Committee. April is married to Darrel Weaver.

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“It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to work with the Trump Administration,” Weaver said on her website. “We need strong conservative Senators who will fight for our hard-working families against liberal socialist policies. Join my fight for common-sense conservative policy by voting on March 30th.”

“I am prepared to work hard and earn the votes of the hard-working citizens of Shelby, Bibb and Chilton Counties,” Weaver said. “

Weaver is a registered nurse who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, Weaver worked for over 23 years as a hospital leader in various management roles in urban, suburban and rural hospitals.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve in the Trump Administration,” Weaver said. “I am deeply proud of the incredible things we were able to accomplish to make our country stronger, safer and more secure and was humbled that President Trump chose me to help during this health crisis.”

Weaver served as the Chairman of the Shelby County House Delegation from October 2016 through May 2020. She represented Shelby, Bibb and Chilton counties in the state House. Weaver opposed Gov. Ivey’s tax increase on fuel.

“I have always been a fiscal conservative and I have been proud to stand up for the pocketbooks of the families I have represented,” Weaver said. “Senate District 14 needs a proven conservative with courage to stand up for them. My entire career in public service has demonstrated that I am that type of conservative.”

Also on Tuesday, in Shelby County, five candidates are running as Republicans in the vacant HD73 seat.

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Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. Voters may only vote at the polling place in which they are assigned. There is no electronic voting in Alabama. Any outstanding absentee ballots need to be turned in Tuesday. Voters must have a valid photo ID in order to participate in any election in Alabama.

Virginia Applebaum was the only candidate to qualify as a Democrat so there is no Democratic primary.

If a special Republican primary runoff election is needed, it will be held on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The eventual Republican nominee will face Applebaum in the special general election on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Cam Ward’s term and will have to seek re-election in next year’s 2022 election.

Written By

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



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