Two new commissioners elected; one incumbent wins and one run-off set
The Franklin County Commission will have a much different look when new members are sworn in November.
One commissioner opted to run for probate judge, another chose not to seek re-election and one more lost his bid for a second term during Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
After a close race for the District 1 commissioner’s spot, William Earl Bishop, of East Franklin, and Billy Wilson, of Phil Campbell, ultimately secured the chance to face off in a run-off election on April 24. Bishop secured 40 percent of the vote and Wilson received 30.27 percent, barely edging out political newcomer Chris Fretwell who carried 29.73 percent of the vote.
“I just want to thank everyone who got out and voted for me,” Wilson said. “I have worked hard in this campaign to let the people of Franklin County know I will represent their best interests if I’m elected as their commissioner and I still stand by that.
“I hope that people will come out again and vote for me in the run-off election in April.”
Bishop said he was appreciative of the many people who took the time to vote in Tuesday’s primary.
“I just can’t thank everyone enough who voted for me,” Bishop said. “This has been a good race and I really feel like I’ve gained two friends in the process because there hasn’t been any mud slinging and that’s something to be proud of.
“I want people to know that even though the primary is over, it is still important to come out and vote in the run-off election on April 24. I will be working just as hard to make sure the people know that I will be committed to fixing the problems our county is facing and I will appreciate their continued support in this next election.”
Current District 1 Commissioner Stratt Byars opted to run for probate judge and ultimately lost that bid to Russellville business owner Connie Green.
The winner of the run-off will face Republican Chris Wallace in November.
In District 2, former Russellville police Lt. Wyman Pounders defeated incumbent Howard Hutcheson 2,800 votes to 1,526.
“It’s humbling to receive this kind of support and I am especially proud that so many high school students told me that they got out and voted for me,” said Pounders, who now serves as a school resource officer in Russellville.
“I can’t say enough about the kind of person that my opponent is. This whole campaign has been nothing but respectful and clean for all the candidates.”
Pounders said that he would spend the next eight months getting familiar with the county’s operating procedures and familiarizing himself with the items he will take on after taking office in November.
The District 3 commissioner’s race on the Democratic ticket proved to be the closest race of the evening with Randy Hargett and Mark Holland flip-flopping their leads with each precinct’s return.
When the final votes were tallied, Hargett came out on top securing 50.96 percent of the vote.
“I am so appreciative of the people who supported me and voted for me in the primary election, but the race is not over yet,” Hargett said. “We have some issues in our county that have to be addressed. Roads and jobs are the two biggest concerns for citizens and these people trust us to make some changes and that is a responsibility I don’t take lightly.
“We will start working towards the general election in November and we hope people will come out to support me in that race as well.”
Rayburn Massey, who was unopposed on the Republican ticket for District 3 commissioner, said he is looking forward to a clean race between now and the November 6 general election.
“I want to congratulate Randy on his victory,” Massey said. “Randy and I are basically neighbors and our families have known each other for a long time.
“I think having two viable candidates for this position is a good thing because I believe Franklin County is slowly getting back to being a two-party county.
“For the longest period of time, Franklin County has been mainly a Democratic county, but when I’ve gone back and looked at the senate seats and governor’s races, the Republicans have done well in Franklin County and I think that trend is starting to trickle down to the local level.
“If I’m elected, I’ll work hard for the people of this county, no matter what their party affiliation is.”
The District 4 seat is the only one that will not change this year. Red Bay’s Don Hastings was elected to a second term, beating Anthony Bentley 2,403 to 1,625.
“I am pleased,” Hastings said just moments after the results became official.
“The people spoke and they put me back in for a second term and I will continue to do the best job I can.”