On July 18, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Homewood and Hoover residents will select the newest member of the Jefferson County Commission in a special election.

Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mike Bolin says he's the man for the job.

"I'm really excited about what Jefferson County has been doing," Bolin said. "They've got a great commission… There were three conservative Republicans on that commission … We still have two. And I want to be the third because if there's anything in life, I want to be known as my father's son. My father was staunchly conservative and [taught me] philosophy and guided me through the life that I had. I'm thankful to him every day."

Bolin contends for the District 5 seat against longtime Democrat donor and Birmingham-area real estate developer David Silverstein and Mountain Brook resident Jeff Wise. 

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. The special election on July 18 will determine which party will have the majority.

However, though candidates in regular elections for the Jefferson County Commission declare partisanship, candidates in the special election are required by law to be nonpartisan. This means they will not appear on the ballot as Republican, Democrat or third-party, and voters who wish to vote for their preferred party will have to know their candidate's undeclared affiliation beforehand. 

Bolin was born and raised in Jefferson County. He graduated from Shades Valley High School in Irondale, attended Samford University in Homewood and received his Juris Doctorate from Samford's Cumberland Law School.

After receiving his law degree, Bolin worked as a trial attorney for 15 years before he became a probate judge in Jefferson County, a position he held for three terms. He then won an election to the Alabama Supreme Court and served three terms there before retiring at the beginning of this year.

"After that, I didn't know what God had in mind for me [next]," Bolin said. "I was uncertain and considered a lot of things - teaching in law school, going back into practice, a lot of different things - but I never had an idea there would be an opening in a job so much to my liking that was created when my good friend Steve Ammons took another job himself."

Bolin said multiple people asked him to consider running for Jefferson County Commission, but it was his daughter who finally convinced him.

"That's all I needed," he said. "My baby telling me this was the thing. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. In the judicial branch of government, your goal is to know the rule of law and apply it strictly. That makes it fair. In what I call kind of a combination - legislative-executive, because they have some powers of both on the Jefferson County Commission - it's different. You want to do your best for your community."

Bolin said that, if elected, his priorities will be to bring economic opportunities to the county and back law enforcement. 

Jefferson County is home to some of the most dangerous cities in the United States but also some of the safest. Cities like Birmingham and Bessemer have extremely high violent crime rates per capita. In contrast, cities like Mountain Brook and Vestavia have some of the lowest in the state and even the country. 

"Things are getting dangerous in this country, and some of that danger has come up in Jefferson County," Bolin said. "We see too many shootings, people getting hurt in the daily headlines every morning, so I want to foster a cooperation between our law enforcement from the county standpoint with the sheriff and the local police forces, which are great, just like here in Vestavia, Hoover, Mountain Brook and Homewood."

Bolin had good things to say about the two conservatives currently sitting on the commission: Commission President Jimmy Stephens and President Pro-Tem Joe Knight. He said they are both solid conservatives and that Stephens was even a fraternity brother of his. However, he said this does not make him feel entitled to the election.

"I'm not saying that I am entitled to it for that," Bolin said. "Nobody's entitled to anything."

Bolin insisted that the election is of critical importance for Jefferson County. 

"I think it's huge," Bolin explained. "[The rules were] crafted I'll say with probably some special legislative intent … so as to hide some of your background because the commission positions are created to be voted on by the people in partisan elections. They all are. They will be … So you have to be an independent or a Republican or a Democrat … I qualify, and I follow the rules. I learned that in law school. I'm going to go by the rules that are written down, but it shouldn't be that way. If you're going to have commissioners elected partisan for their job, then if there's an opening, it should be the same way in a special election."

"But, hey, I am what I am," he continued. "… I am a conservative human being who has been a longtime Republican, Chair of the Jefferson County Republican Party. Those people know me that way, and I'm not going to hide that. I am what I am for good and for bad."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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