Judge Bob Vance, who is running for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, speaks at the Cullman County Democrats meeting Thursday night. (Christy Perry for The Tribune)
CULLMAN – The Cullman County Democrats held their monthly meeting Thursday night at the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce with Judge Bob Vance as their special guest speaker. Vance, the Democratic candidate for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has served Jefferson County as a circuit judge since 2002. A Birmingham native, Bob is the son of federal appeals judge Robert Vance, who was assassinated in his Mountain Brook home on Dec. 16, 1989, when he opened a package containing a mail bomb.
Bob Vance was a last-minute replacement for the Democrats in the 2012 race for chief justice against Republican Roy Moore. He described that race as “an 80-day whirlwind.” Vance, who was not anticipating being in that election, garnered 48 percent of the vote, losing narrowly to his opponent.
This year, Vance chose to run and is happy about having a full campaign season.
“The chief justice is the head administrator of all the courts in Alabama and that comes with a heavy responsibility,” Vance shared. “Alabama needs someone who will advocate for the courts. Someone who will work to solve the courts’ funding problems that currently exist.”
He continued, “The courts must be for everyone. They should be about fairness, facts and the law. The courts should be free of bias, prejudice and personal emotions. The chief justice must embody these values and I believe I am the candidate that will do that.”
Vance said Alabama needs fresh ideas and touched on how he plans to improve the Alabama legal system’s approach to the opioid and mental health crisis.
“Many individuals are in trouble due to substance abuse; some are suffering from mental illness, and sometimes it's both,” he explained. “These are not always law and order issues but public health issues. This can end up costing taxpayers a fortune. I will work for the funding to better utilize alternative programs that have been proven to rehabilitate individuals and with very low recidivism rates. I want to turn troubled people into productive, tax-paying citizens.”
Vance admitted that these fixes may take some time but feels he will be able to “look at problems in a new light, start a dialog on social problems and bring fundamental fairness for everyone.”
Vance will face Republican Tom Parker in the Nov. 6 general election.
Also speaking at the meeting was a campaign representative for Lee Auman. Auman is seeking to unseat 22-year Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, in Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. Auman will hold a town hall meeting on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Cullman Civic Center. Auman plans to discuss the district’s opioid prescription problems and other important topics.
The final speaker of the night was former Cullman County Coroner, Gary Murphree, who is challenging Republican incumbent Jeremy L. Kilpatrick in hopes of returning to his former office. Murphree spoke of his 18 years as assistant coroner and 16 years as coroner. Murphree said his 34 years in the coroner’s office, along with his role as director of Moss-Service Funeral Home, makes him “the most experienced coroner in the state of Alabama according to the Alabama Coroner Association.” He also spoke about his excellent working relationship with Cullman’s Republican sheriff and district attorney.
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