Candidates introduce themselves at Forum

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

A Candidates Forum held Tuesday at Concordia College gave candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves to the public. About 70 people were in attendance in the Willis Wright Auditorium as candidates for State Representative District 67, Dallas County Probate Judge and Dallas County Sheriff talked about their platforms and answered questions from the audience.

Major Madison Jr. of Concordia College served as moderator for the forum. The event was sponsored by the Selma & Dallas County Chamber of Commerce.

Email newsletter signup

Rosie Callen said she was running for District 67 because “I have a platform. It’s time for Dallas County and the Black Belt to pass some bills.”

Callen said she has three bills that, if elected, she’d get introduced and passed in the House of Representatives. All three bills concern the economy and growth of small businesses in Dallas County.

Raji Gourdine, also a candidate for State Representative District 67, said he believes public servants are just that – servants who serve the public and as a representative, he would get out in the county and find out what the needs are.

“Then we see if we can leverage some local resources to get things done,” he said.

“I believe in working with all people – all elected officials as well. The answers really lie within our community.”

Ronald Peoples, running for District 67, said that having lived in Dallas County all his life, and having children who have gone through the public schools, he is “familiar with the problems that exist.”

Jobs and Education are the biggest concerns, he said. “If people are properly trained, we will get the jobs.”

The incumbent Rep. Yusuf Salaam,

the last to speak, said the key to Montgomery politics is one word – knowledge.

“When you go to Montgomery, you better have some knowledge of the governmental process,” he said. “We make the law in Montgomery. That’s the primary job of a legislative person.”

In the race for Dallas County Probate Judge, Kim Ballard said he has been in elected office for 19 years – nine on the Selma City Council, and 10 on the Dallas County Commission. “I’ve walked my shoe leather off asking what my constituents want,” he said. “And I’m proud we’ve never had dissension on the commission – we never have racial votes.”

Ballard said he does see room for improvement, especially in technical areas such as upgrading computers and Internet access so that constituents can download forms needed prior to coming to the courthouse.

Probate Judge candidate Kobi Little said he was running on a platform of promise and leadership.

“It’s time for Dallas County to not only see the area for what it is, but for what we want it to be,” he said. “We need a common vision for our county.”

Little said the probate judge is the highest elected office in the county. As such, as probate judge, he would work to create harmony between all elected officials and develop a comprehensive plan for the county. Little pointed out his work with U.S. Congressman Artur Davis and several programs and grants brought to the area through that effort.

William “Bill” Minor said he was born and raised in Dallas County and educated in Dallas County Schools.

Minor, who has served as chairman for the Dallas County Public Schools Board, said education was the key, and that we need to start programs early.

“We don’t need to necessarily leave things as they are, but need to build on them.”

Minor said that as part of the school board, that governmental body has collectively done “great things for Dallas County,” including new construction and expanded programs.

Candidates for the position of Dallas County Sheriff included incumbent John Ellis, Lee Green and Harris Huffman Jr.

Ellis described himself as a Christian Democrat who wants to give deputies more freedom – under the Constitution – to do their job however they see fit.

Ellis said he is part of the “laboring class” and said that 70 percent of the population are in the “laboring class” and need someone in the position of sheriff from that class.

The candidate said he is in the race to get his message out to the public.

Candidate Lee Green said he is native of Dallas County who served 24 years in the military.

“I fought for our country, now it’s time to fight for our county,” he said. “I’ve seen our children drop by the wayside. If we’re not going to change for the best, we’re going to change for the worse.”

Green said he’d like to see deputies assigned to specific sectors, more female deputies and programs to check on the elderly, and “get deputies out of the courthouse and on patrol.”

Huffman, who has served as sheriff for 12 years, said he is a graduate of Selma High School, went to the FBI school in Quantico, Va.,

and went to the Sheriff’s Institute, in addition to receiving his associate’s degree in criminal justice from Wallace Community College Selma.

He pointed to the neighborhood watch programs, Crimestoppers and a new program, Project Life Savers, as programs operated out of the sheriff’s office. He said he has deputies who “live all over the county” as well as in the city.