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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Johnny Ford enters race for state Senate



Former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford launched a bid to return to the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday.

Ford, who served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 1998 until 2004, announced he will run for state Senate District 28, which includes all or part of Barbour, Bullock, Henry, Lee, Macon and Russell counties.

Ford said people in the district should have the right to vote on any issue, including gambling. He did not say whether he supported gambling, but said VictoryLand is a major employer in Macon County.

As a former mayor, Ford said he would fight for county government. He said he supports home rule that allows cities and counties to make some decisions without approval from Montgomery.

"In the Legislature, we spent too much time dealing with local issues," Ford said.

He said he is running because he wants to help the people in the district where he was born and raised.
The district is currently represented by Democratic Sen. Myron Penn of Union Springs, who told the Montgomery Advertiser he will not run for reelection if a candidate steps forward with a "positive image and energy."

"I am actually interested in seeing some people emerge," he said. "If somebody comes forward who can put forward a positive energy, yes, I will not run. ... If no one emerges, I will run for reelection."

Penn said Ford has a right to run, but said in a statement that "I want the citizens of our community to have a state senator they can be proud of--not just an opportunist who wants to take advantage of an open election."

"It is of the utmost importance to me that we continue this forward momentum and image for Senate District 28 and not slip back to the days of politics serving the needs of the politician instead of the needs of the people," he said in the statement. "Therefore, I will refrain from making a decision on the 2010 elections until I feel comfortable that there will be Senate candidates who will share the same vision I have for the future rather than a selfish agenda to turn back to 'old-days' politics."

Penn, who is in his second term in the Senate, said he is leaning toward not running and instead growing his law offices in Union Springs and Clayton.

When asked about Penn’s comments, Ford said his campaign would remain positive and he thanked the senator for his service.

"Yes, I am an opportunist," he responded. "I see an opportunity for the people of the 28th District to have new leadership."

Ford said people do not know Penn's plans.

Ford was flanked at his Tuesday announcement at the State House by supporters from each of the six counties in the district.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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