Hayneville council seat election postponed, reset for May 23

Published 11:06 am Friday, March 24, 2017

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By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

A special election to fill a vacant seat on the Hayneville Town Council was not held Tuesday, March 21 and has now been set for Tuesday, May 23, according to Hayneville Mayor David Daniel. He said the election will now be open to more candidates than the two who were on the ballot for March 21.

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The cancellation of the election on Tuesday, March 21, came as the result of a court order issued by Lowndes County Circuit Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell on Tuesday, March 17. And the mayor and Town Council of Hayneville were directed to provide the court with a new and legal special election date on or before Friday, March 24.

According to court documents, the date for holding the special election in a probate order was “defective.”

According to a copy of Lovell’s order, “The electorate must have 60 days’ notice of a special municipal election, and any shorter time cannot be permitted.” City of Birmingham v. Bouldin 190 So.2d 271 (Ala.1966). “Requirement as to notice are mandatory and not directory, and a failure to comply therewith is fatal to the validity of an election. Bouldin v. City of Homewood 174 So.2d 306 (Ala. 1965).

As a result, Lovell ordered, “The mayor, town council, and the town’s agents, servants and employees are hereby ordered and directed to forthwith conduct this special election strictly in accordance with the provisions of Alabama Code Sections 11-46-1, et seq.”

The order states, “The special election having been called, the mayor and the town council are now directed to provide the court with a new and legal special election date on or before Friday, March 24, 2017, give the required notice of the election, set the qualifying deadlines for qualified electors, and otherwise proceed with the special election to fill the vacancy in District A.”

Lovell also ordered that the court retains jurisdiction to enforce the current and previous orders regarding the August 2016 election and the special election to fill the vacancy in District A of the Town of Hayneville.

Daniel told the Signal that the March 21st date for the election was set by the probate judge (John E. Hulett).

Daniel said he wished that 60-days’ notice had been given. He also said there were complaints that (candidacy for) the election was not open to the public.

“I didn’t know it was supposed to be open to the general public. I thought it was to be open to those two people who lost council seats,” Daniel said.

He said, “In hindsight, we see now that we made some mistakes and we’re willing to correct them…”

Daniel told the Signal that he set the new May 23 date based on the Alabama League of Municipalities the Secretary of State.”  He said that would give the required notice and would be on a fourth Tuesday.

Hulett declined to comment.

The court order by Lovell regarding the now rescheduled March 21 council seat election came in connection with a Circuit Court of Lowndes County case Darshini Bandy, Connie Johnson and Justin Pouncey plaintiffs v Carol(e) Schrushy, Kim Bell, Rickey Bell and George Lee Davis et all defendants.

According to Lovell’s order, it was no longer necessary for the court to allow Pouncey to be a candidate as the March 21st election was not being held and “all candidates will be allowed to qualify for election in accordance with existing municipal election laws.”

Pouncey was represented by attorney Jerry L. Thornton and the Town of Hayneville was represented by attorney Michael G. Strickland.