Many of their concerns pointed to the fact that Jackie Swinford’s name was not on that list.
Swinford, who is Talladega County commissioner for District 1, which includes the Munford area, was not recognized by the Talladega County Republican Committee while trying to switch his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
Of the 25 members of the Talladega County Republican Executive Committee, 14 members voted 8-6 against Swinford’s request to become a Republican at a recent party meeting. At Swinford's request, a special meeting of the committee is scheduled for Jan. 5 to vote on whether his name will be placed on the Republican ballot in spite of the previous denial.
“I’ve been encouraged by a number of my family and friends for years to switch parties,” said Swinford, who did not attend Thursday’s meeting. “I told them I ran as a Democrat and I will serve as a Democrat and I would switch for re-election.”
Swinford said he felt waiting for the re-election was the right decision and was encouraged by some of the people from the same committee that ended up turning him down.
“A lot of the encouragement to switch was from members of the Talladega County Republican Committee,” Swinford said.
“It was by their encouragement that I decided to make the switch, and I won’t call any names but I consulted with them, this was not some spur of the moment decision. I don’t think it’s fair.”
The Munford residents who were at Thursday’s meeting did not see the decision as fair either.
“This is where the rubber meets the road here in Munford. We have to do what we have to do here,” Jimmy Mann said at the meeting. “We didn’t want the community to come out and have a shouting match, we just wanted to have a means to speak to you all.”
A range of questions arose as to why Swinford was not recognized as a Republican by the committee.
The concerned citizens wanted to know what factors went into the selection process, whether or not the committee felt Swinford was too liberal to be considered a Republican, and if someone in the committee had turned the rest of the committee members against Swinford for personal reasons.
“Why would eight people who are from the south end of the county vote against him if it wasn’t for the fact that Ed Lackey campaigned against him?” someone asked.
Swinford defeated Lackey, who is an executive member of the Talladega County Republican Committee, for the District 1 seat on the Talladega County Commission, with Lackey running as a Republican and Swinford running as a Democrat.
“It’s not so much that you turned Jackie down, it feels like you turned us down because Jackie is one of us,” Jeff Hughes said. “We’re going to try and get you to reconsider.”
Aside from the questions about Swinford not being recognized by the committee came an underlying feeling of under representation among those at the meeting.
“The people in District 1 like to make their own decisions. They don’t like them to hand them the names they have to vote for,” Swinford said.
“It was about the people of Munford being denied the right to vote for the person they chose. Their right to vote was taken away.”
Since Thursday’s meeting, Swinford has requested that Hubbard file a declaration of candidacy that would require the executive committee to vote whether or not Swinford’s name will go on the Republican ballot.
The committee is to meet Jan. 5 at an undisclosed location for the vote. If there is someone who detests, the executive committee will reconvene and hear Swinford and his opposer and the committee will then have a closed session and have a final vote.
As of press time Friday, Lackey had not qualified to run against Swinford for the District 1 seat; the deadline for Republican qualifications is Jan. 13.
If Lackey does qualify and Swinford does make it on to the Republican ballot Thursday, there will be a primary election.
“I will not seek the nomination for Democratic Party,” Swinford said. “I will either run as an independent, I will await the decision of the Republican Party, or there will be someone with my endorsement and support that will run on the Republican ticket.”
Contact Aziza Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.