Birmingham city councilor William Bell and about two dozen supporters gathered at noon Monday on the steps of the Jefferson County Courthouse to urge certification of the special election for the District One seat on the Jefferson County Commission. Calvin Woods, leader of the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, spoke in support of Bell, as did state Sen. Linda Coleman and state Rep. Mary Moore.
“At a time when Jefferson County is faced with the worst financial crisis in the history of this county government, Patricia Working, Rick Erdemir, and Floyd McGinnis are allowed to continue this charade,” Woods said.
Working, Erdemir, and McGinnis are three voters who filed a lawsuit with the Jefferson County Circuit Court asking that the election results not be certified.
The District 1 seat was vacated last year when Larry Langford stepped down upon being elected Mayor of Birmingham. Governor Bob Riley then appointed retired two-star General George Bowman to the seat. Bowman has stated that in the past that he plans to remain in ofice until someone else is sworn in.
Bell won the Feb. 5 election with 56 percent of the vote, failing to force a run-off with any of the six candidates in the race. Bowman came in second with 16 percent, and Fred Plump came in third with 10 percent of the vote.
Last year, Plump filed suit with the U.S. District Court, claiming that Gov. Riley had no authority to appoint a commissioner in Jefferson County. That case is still pending.
Plump has since joined Bell as a defendant in Working, Erdemir, and McGinnis’s suit. Plump’s attorney, Edward Stills, claims that Working and Erdemir do not live in District 1.
Woods, who referenced that claim at the rally Monday, also had something to say about the only plaintiff actually from District 1:
“Mr. Floyd McGinnis had a chance to know all the candidates who ran for the Jefferson County Commission seat for District One. He voted in the Feb. 5, 2008 election."
In response to these comments, Albert L. Jordan, an attorney representing the three voters, told the Weekly, “I don’t think that will stop him from challenging the election.” According to Jordan, his clients’ lawsuit cites a 1977 statute that gives the county election commission authority to hold a special election during a 'County-wide election' to fill vacancies. Jordan argues that the day the county scheduled for the election does not fit the definition of a 'County-wide election.' “Feb. 5 was a presidential preference primary; no government officers were being elected, just delegates."
Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Scott Vowell will hear proposed orders from all of the participants in the suit on Wednesday and oral arguments, if needed, this Friday.
— Madison Underwood