Montgomery County senate seat could stay empty through legislative session

Updated: Oct. 4, 2017 at 10:24 PM CDT
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(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - This week, Governor Kay Ivey announced the primary special election to fill the District 26 senate seat will be held on Dec. 12.

The seat was vacated by Quinton Ross, who resigned from this position to become the president of Alabama State University. The Governor's Office released a statement to WSFA 12 News about the reason officials chose those date:

"After working closely with the Secretary of State on choosing the proper dates, Governor Ivey determined December 12th to be the earliest possible date for the Senate District 26 Special Primary election. Time has to be allowed for candidates to qualify and for ballots to be sent to our military members currently serving overseas."

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said allowing this time is required by law.

"That's a federal requirement that has to be adhered to in each and every instance," Merrill said.

He also said state law requires a certain number of days to pass between different parts of the election process. If the primary election results in a run off on either side, the run off election will be held on Feb. 27, 2018. If a run off is not necessary, the general election will be held that day instead. However, if there is a run off election, the general election would be held on May 15.

Nancy Worley, former Alabama Secretary of State and current Alabama Democratic Party Chairman, said the timing for the different steps to fill this seat have created concern for many voters in Montgomery County.

"If you were to have a primary, a run off and then a general election, it would take it through most of the spring and most of the legislative session," Worley said. "It's a concern for everyone."

Merrill said he understands the concern for voters in District 26, but that it is important for time to allow all voters to take part in the election.

"A lot of people are concerned that they will not have representation in Montgomery during the time of the regular session, but the most important thing is to make sure everyone's voice is heard and everyone's voice is counted," Merrill said.

The Alabama Republican Party could not confirm any candidates had officially qualified to run for the party. However, Montgomery's Ja'Mel Brown confirmed he submitted paperwork to run as a Republican on Wednesday afternoon.

The Alabama Democratic Party confirmed that Tony Cobb Jr. is the only candidate, so far, to official file paperwork to run as a Democrat. Montgomery City Councilman Fred Bell, District 6, and Councilman David Burkette, District 4, confirmed they intend to run for the position. Alabama Rep. John Knight also confirmed his intentions to run. The party said it has received a number of calls from other people who intend to run.

The deadline to qualify for the race is 5 p.m. on Oct. 10.

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.