Talladega Mayor Loses Re-election Bid After Assault

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Talladega Mayor Loses Re-election Bid After Assault.

TALLADEGA, Ala. — An Alabama mayor who had been re-elected in 2011 despite a federal conviction and recently was recovering from an assault lost a bid for a fifth term in office Tuesday. Talladega Mayor Larry Barton faced challenges from opponents Vann Caldwell and Jerry Cooper Sr. in the city’s mayoral race — a campaign run in the shadow of Barton’s record and more recently a scandal involving allegations of illicit sex. Many people turned out to vote in a very important election at one of four different polling places in the city, one that city manager Patrick Bryant said is exciting. “We have the mayoral seat, the entire council and the entire school board all up for election at the same time, so it’s a very important day in terms of where the city is going to go in the future,” he said.

He added the tally was the final count for the city of roughly 16,000, which is known for hosting major auto racing events. “I feel good; we’re at ease with everything. When you stay in office that long you’re gonna make folks mad,” Barton said Tuesday night. “They wanted change and I respect that.” Barton served about three years in prison in the 1990s after being convicted of defrauding the city.

In ward two, incumbent Juanita McClellan is battling Mary McGhee for a spot on the board. “It’s about the children of Talladega, they need a good quality education, and there are a lot of other issues that need to be addressed,” McGhee said. On Aug. 8, Barton was assaulted about 55 miles west of Talladega outside a barbershop where he works part-time in the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills.

Some voters said they had expected Barton’s appeal, accessibility and charitable reputation to help him find his way back to the mayor’s office despite his past as other politicians have done — including former Providence, Rhode Island, Mayor Buddy Cianci and former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry. Barton was beaten up more than two weeks ago amid claims from attorney Stewart Springer that Barton was secretly recorded having an affair with the wife of the beating suspect, Benny Green. Amid the political campaign signs dotting the well-kept yards in Talladega’s quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods, Barton and his wife, Mary, drove up to a voting precinct Tuesday afternoon with their own signs that simply read “BARTON” in red letters on both sides of their car. Barton, who appeared to be recovering from multiple bruises and cuts, walked alongside his wife and greeted voters as they trickled into the recreation center to vote.

Some residents said the city needs to clean up its reputation in hopes of attracting more economic development besides the racetrack. “I think Talladega has an image problem right now and that’s one thing we have to combat,” Dase said. “And then, we’ve been hurt a lot with industry over the last 10, 15 years, and you know, Talladega has to change.

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