Last Saturday and Sunday, members of the Alabama New South Alliance (ANSA) the sister organization to the Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) met to screen candidates for local offices in Greene County. ANSC develops a slate of candidates that the feel would do the best job and be accountable to the people of Greene County.
All local candidates, in contested races, were invited by letter to the screening, which was held in the Renaissance Theater, since the Greene County Commission did not grant permission to hold a “political meeting” at the Eutaw Activity Center. Commissioner Corey Cockrell has requested that the County Attorney seek a State Attorney General’s opinion on whether a political meeting can be held on county owned property.
It is a general rule of ANSA that candidates who do not attend the screening are not likely to be endorsed. District Judge Lillie Osborne presided over the screening process. Each candidate was given three minutes to introduce themselves and explain why they are they are the best person for the position. A ten-minute period for questions from the membership followed. Candidates for the same position were generally asked the same questions by the membership.
For Commissioner for District 1, Garria Spencer was endorsed. Shelia R. Daniels, his opponent did not attend the screening.
For District 4, incumbent Commission Chair, Allen Turner Jr. was endorsed. Neither of his opponents, Christopher Armstead or Malcolm Merriweather attended the screening.
In District 5, for Commissioner, Marvin Childs was endorsed. Anikia Coleman Jones attended, however, incumbent commissioner Roshanda Summerville and Sharlene French did not attend.
Incumbent Commissioners Tennyson Smith and District 2 and Corey Cockrell in District 3 are running unopposed and were not screened.
For School Board District 1, incumbent School Board Chair Carol P. Zippert was endorsed. Robert Davis Jr. attended the screening, her other opponent Fentress ‘Duke’ Means did not.
For Board of Education, District 2, incumbent Kashaya Cockrell was endorsed, neither of her two opponents, Brandon R. Merriweather or Tameka King attended the screening, although Merriweather called and said he had to attend some employment related training out of town.
For Sheriff of Greene County, Jimmie Benison and Beverly Spencer attended the screening. Incumbent Sheriff Jonathan ‘Joe’ Benison and challenger Hank McWhorter chose not to attend the screening. Both candidates, who came to the screening, were questioned in depth about their positions on law enforcement and the operation of electronic bingo. Beverly Spencer received the ANSA endorsement.
“We had an open, democratic and transparent screening process, over six hours on two weekend afternoons. All of the candidates, including myself, were questioned in detail on their thoughts, policies and programs. Now we need to go to work registering, educating and turning the people out to vote,” said District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne, Chairperson of the local ANSC/ANSA Screening Committee.