House race to be decided Tuesday

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2017

After months of going without a voice in the Alabama House of Representatives, the race for District 67 will come to a close next Tuesday in a special general election.

The District 67 seat was vacated by Darrio Melton, who was elected Mayor of Selma last October. Prince Chestnut, an attorney and municipal judge for the city of Selma, won a special primary election at the end of January.

The race seemed to be over after Chestnut defeated four other candidates with nearly 70 percent of the vote in Dallas County and parts of Perry County. Out of 4,168 votes cast, Chestnut had 2,847. Days later Tremayne “Toby” Gorden, a Selma businessman, qualified as an independent candidate after he petitioned to get his name on the ballot.

Email newsletter signup

According to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, Gorden had to have 392 signatures to qualify, and he submitted a total of 671. Out of those, 508 of them checked out as registered voters in District 67.

“If there had not been an independent candidate, then Prince would have become the member that day,” Merrill said the day Gorden qualified as an independent.

Chestnut would have been able to represent District 67 right away in the House. The current legislative session began Feb. 7, so Dallas and parts of Perry County have been without a representative for more than two months.

Whoever wins Tuesday’s election will be District 67’s representative. Chestnut had not run for office prior to the election for the vacant District 67 seat. In an interview prior to the special primary election, Chestnut said he was inspired to run because he wanted to build a better future for his daughter.

“You look at the world a lot differently when you have a child. You start thinking about the local community, and you want to have an environment and an education for your child to flourish,” he said. “The other factor is you don’t want to leave things up to chance and have ineffective representation.”

Gorden has previously run for office several times in Selma and Dallas County in the past.

“It’s an opportunity to represent this area because I’m a native in this area,” Gorden said in a previous interview with the Times-Journal. “I believe my business experience of over 15 years and having lived in some of the economically challenged areas have uniquely prepared me to be able to bring some creative thinking to this particular position.”

Gorden ran for the District 67 seat in 2002 against Yusuf Salaam. According to election results posted in the Times-Journal from 2002, Gorden received two percent of the vote.

He most recently ran for president of the Selma City Council. He has also run for Dallas County probate judge.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning and close at 7 p.m.