Tijuanna Adetunji enters House District 78 race as an Independent
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - On July 13, Tijuanna Adetunji received a letter from the Secretary of State John Merrill stating she had received enough verified petition signatures to qualify as an Independent candidate for the Alabama State House District 78 race in November's General Election.
Adetunji said she originally submitted the names to qualify last month on the June 5th deadline. However, a few weeks later, she was notified the office was not able to verify enough of the signatures she submitted for her to qualify.
Merrill confirmed Adetunji's petition was initially rejected because she did not have enough verified signature. He said she challenged that decision. He said, even on the second round of review after her challenge, "several dozen" of the names were still not accepted. However, enough were verified for Adetunji to qualify.
Adetunji said her initial petition was signed by more than 500 people. In order to qualify, she said she needed a certain percentage of registered voters in her district. For her, she said that meant she only needed 292 verified signatures.
"I believe the people of District 78 are ready to move forward and stop all of the senseless things that are going on," Adetunji said.
Adetunji ran for the seat in 2014 as a Republican. She lost to Democrat Alvin Holmes who held that seat for decades but was defeated in Tuesday's run-off by Democrat Kirk Hatcher. Adetunji said her decision to go from running as a Republican to running as an Independent is a matter of maintaining her values without forcing voters in her district to compromise the party she feels they typically align with. She said a majority of her district is made up of African-American voters who have values that align with hers but are loyal to the Democratic party.
"Many of us grew up in the church," Adetunji said. "We believe in family, we believe in marriage, we believe in keeping our children. At the same time, when it comes to voting, sometimes we don't take those same values to the polls with us. We stick to our tradition."
She said there are challenges to running as an Independent, but she believes the things that make it challenging are also beneficial.
"I know that I have to reach across the aisles to get things done," Adetunji said. "One thing about me, I am willing to work with other people. You have to work well with other people to get things done."
Adetunji will run against Hatcher in the General Election in November.
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