Primary elections important to our country

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2000

Alabama voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, June 6, to vote in the party primary elections, as well as one statewide amendment and a number of local referendums.

CNN won't be covering the election in play-by-play fashion like it did in the half of the United States that voted before George W. Bush and Al Gore locked up their parties' nominations for president. Bush and Gore, who long ago stopped their battle against others in their parties and started campaigning against each other, actually have one competitor each on their respective party ballots.

Who cares?

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There are, however, several items on the ballot that need your attention.

Proposed statewide amendment number one isn't really one of them unless you have interests in municipalities with a population of more than 125,000.

Our attention is primarily focused on the second judicial circuit court judge Democratic primary race between incumbent Ed McFerrin and Jon Folmar; the special referendum that, if passed, will authorize additional court costs to be imposed by the Butler County Commission and for the proceeds to be used for the county jail, capital projects and economic development in the county; and the Democratic primary races for Butler County Commission districts one, two, three and five.

The Advocate will break tradition and endorse candidates in most of these races in next Saturday's paper.

We'll also be providing lots of background information on the candidates and the issues to help voters with their June 6 decisions.

Why are we endorsing candidates?

We owe it to our community and our readers to tell them how we see things in the upcoming election. It's not a matter of right or wrong. It's not a matter of liking someone or not liking someone. It's a matter of gathering as much information and opinion as we can about the candidates and the issues and offering our advice.

Look at our endorsement as another person sitting around the coffee shop talking politics.

We're not trying to predict the winners, we're not trying to judge character. We're trying to do our part to help voters make an educated and informed decision at the poll.

Take, for example, the special referendum to let the Butler County Commission impose added court costs, and use the proceeds to build a county jail and on other capital projects and for economic development in the county.

I'm going to vote "Yes."

Do I think added court costs are the best way to fund a new jail? No.

Do I think it's a better option than the promised one-cent sales tax addition if it fails. You better believe I do.

But short of rewriting the Alabama constitution to allow greater flexibility in reworking local tax code, this is the kind of revenue source to which the county must look.

If you're tired of nickel and dime ways to get things financed, support real tax reform the next time you get a chance. That won't likely be anytime soon, though.

County commissioners are so handcuffed by the state's out-of-date constitution that none of the options they had to consider were all that attractive.

Unless you want to pay one percent more for everything you buy in Butler County and encourage folks to go elsewhere and spend their money, vote yes on the special referendum.

It is another tax that doesn’t affect the affluent, but it only affects those who break the law.

Some have used the rationale that this increase in court costs will let the people pay for the jail that use the jail.

Give me a break.

Most folks who go to court never see the jail.

One more thing, you'll have to look on the back of the ballot to find this election.

Eric Bishop is publisher of The Greenville Advocate. His column appears on Saturday.