In 2022, former Navy SEAL and law enforcement officer Jared Hudson narrowly lost to the incumbent Democrat Mark Pettway in the election for Jefferson County Sheriff. Now, Hudson is encouraging conservatives to get out and vote in a special election later this month that will determine which party holds the majority in the Jefferson County Commission.
Former Jefferson County commissioner Steve Ammons announced in May that he would be stepping down to become the Birmingham Business Alliance CEO.
Ammons' resignation leaves two Republicans and two Democrats on the five-person commission. Residents of Ammons' District 5 - comprised of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Homewood and Hoover - must now choose between three candidates for the open seat: former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mike Bolin, Birmingham-area real estate developer David Silverstein and Mountain Brook resident Jeff Wise.
Unlike regular elections for the Jefferson County Commission, candidates in the special election will not have a political party by their name.
However, Bolin is a self-described conservative Republican. According to the Hoover Sun, Wise is also a Republican. Silverstein is branding himself as a nonpartisan candidate but has donated over $130,000 to Democrats in the past, like former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham).
Hudson suggested that though the municipalities in District 5 lean conservative, not having party affiliations on the ballot could threaten a conservative majority on the commission.
"One, the party affiliation is going to often times dictate where they stand," Hudson said. "Two, they might be a good friend. A good friend might not be the best person for the position."
Initially, Birmingham-area urologist Brian Christine, a Republican, declared his candidacy for the special election, but he withdrew his name from the ballot in June to support Bolin.
Hudson said he initially supported Christine, but now that he's dropped out, he still wants to see a Republican take the empty seat. He wishes Republicans in Jefferson County would do a better job filtering in younger leaders to replace older candidates.
"I've heard great things about both the candidates," Hudson said. "Brian Christine, I was supportive of him, but he decided to step down when the judge stepped in. And that's another thing … In my opinion, he should be retired. He's in his mid-70s. How long are you going to be county commissioner and then we're going to be in the same space again? … If you look at it, we've now got Jimmie Stephens, who's retirement age. He's not going to be in there forever … and we've got Joe Knight, whose retirement age, and now we're looking at having a Republican candidate … Mike Bolin, who is retirement age."
Stephens and Knight are the remaining Republicans on the commission. Stephens is commission president, and Knight is president pro-tem.
"I think it's great that you have real senior leadership people with real experience running this," Hudson continued. "... [But] the Republican party has to start preparing and standing up their newcomers, the people that need to fill the roles or they're going to completely loose out in Jefferson County, not because you don't have Republicans to vote for them or people who are willing to vote Republican, but because you haven't spent time preparing the next person for the job."
Hudson suggested that if the commission loses the conservative majority, that will not reflect the majority of people who live in Jefferson County. He said he ran statistics during his election demonstrating slightly more Republican voters in Jefferson County than Democrats. But he said the Democrats were better about getting out and voting.
He argued that in his election last year, Hoover's low voter turnout helped Pettway secure the sheriff's office.
"Democrats had low turnout, but one the things that was surprising for the Republican party was that there were 35,000 fewer Republican voters in that election than there were in the previous sheriff's elections," Hudson said. "… It wasn't because there weren't individuals working at it."
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