Cullman GOP welcomes local, state candidates to annual dinner

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Cullman County Republican Party Chairman Steve Cummings (left) presents District Judge Kim Chaney (right) with the Elected Official of the Year award at the Cullman County Republican Party Dinner and Silent Auction Thursday evening. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Republican Party welcomed candidates aplenty to its annual dinner and silent auction Thursday evening. With a U.S. Senate seat and Cullman County Commission chairmanship up for grabs, the local GOP used its yearly fundraiser to give a platform to all the hopefuls.  

All vying for a chance to unseat Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne; former judge Roy Moore; businessman Stanley Adair; Alabama Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-Birmingham; and former Auburn Football Head Coach Tommy Tuberville (via video message) each took a turn at the podium, while political director for former U.S. Attorney General and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Phil Sims, spoke on Sessions’ behalf.

Up first, however, were Cullman County Commission chairman candidates, including incumbent Kenneth Walker, Philip Widner and Jeff Clemons. Candidate Wiley Kitchens did not attend.

“I’ve had the great honor to serve my second term,” said Walker. “The Cullman County Commission chairman is kind of a weird situation. I was elected for my second consecutive term and only one other chairman has had that in the past 34 years. Since I’ve been elected in 2012, we had a 40-day reserve on a $20 million budget, and I can say now we have a 120-day reserve. With that 120-day reserve, we were able to put an extra $2 million into paving our roads in 2018. We also had the extra $2 million in 2019, but the weather has been so bad, we were not able to get our paving projects done. We’ve saved the county about $400,000 a year since I’ve been in office.”

Said Widner, “I am a former county engineer for Cullman County. I’m a lifelong resident of Cullman County. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from UAB. I have six years as a county engineer, so I have experience to be your chairman, and all I ask for is your vote. I have no political agenda, just honest and fair representation for the citizens of this county.”

Clemons kept it short and sweet, introducing himself and politely asking for those in attendance for their votes.

Senate candidates Adair and Byrne touched on the controversial topic of the border wall.

“Let’s build the wall, finish the wall,” exclaimed Adair, “and stop these illegals from coming and we can save the taxpayers dollars!”

“I’ve been to the border, in El Paso,” Byrne said. “I’ve seen where we have the wall and where we don’t have the wall. Ladies and gentlemen, walls work. If you’ve ever been to Israel, you’ll know. When all the Palestinian terrorists were killing the Israelis, they put a wall up and the killings stopped. Where we don’t have a wall on the border, they just run across. I watched it happen!”

All the Senate candidates voiced their support for traditional conservative views, including opposition to abortion and support for the Second Amendment.

The local party also recognized six of its own members, presenting awards to:

Kelly Duke – Volunteer of the Year

Alan Crisologo – Young Republican of the Year

Diane Brown – Republican Woman of the Year

Ken Cornelius – Legacy Award

Jacqueline Schendel – Republican of the Year

District Judge Kim Chaney – Elected Official of the Year

 

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Maggie Darnell

maggie@cullmantribune.com