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Opinion | Shelby County Republicans plan to steal an election

How many times during the course of this library fight have we heard the book-moving bunch say they are the majority?

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The North Shelby Library Board will likely see its first actual election since its founding this September — unless the all-Republican Shelby County legislative delegation has something to say about it.

While Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Josephine, has been complaining about a lack of accountability for most library boards, the uniquely governed North Shelby Library is the only library in the state whose board members are elected.

So why are these Shelby County Republicans so eager to take the power away from the people and add a new layer of government?

When you look closer, this bill (HB89) and Elliott’s bill are not so different. They are both aimed at making the library boards political appointees of politicians who either don’t like the way libraries are handling LGBTQ content or are too cowardly to go against the grain.

Of course, these politicians won’t tell you to your face what this is really about. The delegation handed out a laughable statement to the audience on Wednesday, which paints the board as lacking oversight despite being directly elected by the people.

“But the board hasn’t actually held an election since it was founded in 1988!” the group cries. 

Yeah—because people haven’t exactly been lining up to serve on a library board. 

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The town of Pine Level recently incorporated and elected its first councilmembers and guess what? There was no election because there were only enough members to fill the at-large council. You see this time and time again in small towns. It doesn’t mean there’s no election, it means there are no candidates.

Rep. Susan DuBose, R-Hoover, made the motion to move the bill out of committee and out to the House floor. DuBose has been the main lawmaker criticizing the library for its handling of a pride display, despite the community having more support for the display than opposition, 39-26.

The controversy has led to a huge spike of interest in the library and its governance, and there is the expectation that the board will have its first real election in September because of that.

It appears the Republican delegation is worried that those numbers on the pride display will carry over when it comes to the polls.

If not, why do this? One woman that spoke at the public hearing Wednesday said she applied for a nomination to the board to fill a vacancy, but the board members chose another candidate. She said she was well-qualified for the role and several other qualified individuals were also overlooked. Oh, and she is opposes the pride display, go figure.

Tough luck. If you’re so qualified, run for a seat in September. That’s what Democracy is about, right?

How many times during the course of this library fight have we heard the book-moving bunch say they are the majority?

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Prove it at the polls. Hiding behind your Republican delegation is a cowardly move that shows you don’t have the faith in the people that you say you do.

Hey, by the way, can some attorneys write in and explain to me whether this is even legal? Not that that has ever stopped the Alabama Legislature from acting before, but I mean—can the Legislature just take over this library?

There’s some other stuff in the statement that I honestly just haven’t had the time to fact-check at this point—supposedly this bill has been in the works for years.

Whatever. Nobody is taking that seriously given the very public back-and-forth between DuBose and the library, and the overall attack on libraries by ALGOP over the past year.

There’s also some stuff about oversight that, even if true, could be solved without taking away the people’s right to elect their board.

If this bill is treated like other local bills, it will sail right through the Legislature without opposition and the North Shelby LIbrary Board will be completely overhauled.

Let’s hope our lawmakers see this egregious overreach for what it is and not let this bill through the door without a fight.

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Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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