Sanders says he’ll seek eighth term

Published 11:28 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MONTGOMERY — State Sen. Hank Sanders will seek re-election for an eighth term in the Alabama Legislature.

Dallas County officials say they are glad. Mr. Sanders holds the seat for the 23rd Senate District, which is one of the largest and most rural in the state. The district includes all or portions of Dallas, Wilcox, Lowndes, Monroe, Conecuh, Clarke, Marengo, Perry and Autauga counties.

Mr. Sanders, a Democrat, is one of the most powerful legislators in the body. He made the announcement Wednesday morning in the chamber before going to work in the session. About 100 people crowded in the chamber to hear him speak. Among those was Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard.

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In a prepared statement, Sanders said, “These are difficult times. I’ don’t think I’ve ever been one to abandon ship in difficult times.”

Mr. Sanders, 67, is chairman of the Senate education budget committee, but back here in Selma and Dallas County, he is much more than dollars to educate children.

“Personally, I’m proud Sen. Sanders is seeking re-election. He has seniority that has been helpful to the Dallas County Commission and we appreciate that,” Judge Ballard said.

Mr. Sanders is a member of Team Selma, a group of men and women who meet about once a week to discuss economic development in Selma and Dallas County. Judge Ballard said he is a good, strong member of that group.

“From my personal perspective, this is good for Dallas County,” Judge Ballard said.

Wayne Vardaman works closely with Mr. Sanders on Team Selma. Mr. Vardaman is executive director of the Dallas County Economic Development Authority and conducts meetings with Team Selma.

“I think it’s great,” Mr. Vardaman said of Mr. Sanders’ decision to seek re-election. “This gives continued support in the Senate to get economic development. He’ll be able to continue to serve Team Selma.”

Known by some as “The Rock,” Mr. Sanders announced in June he would not seek re-election. He said he wanted time for other things.

State Rep. James Thomas, a Democrat from Camden, whose District 69 includes Autauga, Dallas, Lowndes and Wilcox counties, announced shortly after Mr. Sanders said he would not seek re-election.

Mr. Thomas could not be reached by telephone Wednesday for comment on Mr. Sanders’ decision.

State Rep. Yusuf Salaam, a Democrat, whose District 67 encompasses Dallas County, at one time had thought of running for Mr. Sanders’ vacated seat, but decided against it and opted to seek re-election to his House seat.

Of Mr. Sanders’ decision, Mr. Salaam said, “The senator has been around a long time. I guess he has the prerogative to change his mind like everyone else.”