Mayoral race crowded

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A formal announcement from Atmore native Lloyd Albritton last week declaring he will toss his hat into the ring for the 2012 mayoral race is beginning to provide some shape for the election that is now less than a year away, as the candidate total has risen to four.

Next August’s decision will mark the end of an era in Atmore that has seen current Mayor Howard Shell serve in the office for a total of 22 years.

During a council meeting earlier this year, Shell announced he would not seek re-election in 2012 and publicly endorsed City Councilman Jim Staff for the position.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Several months following Shell’s announcement, Atmore-based minister Dr. Bernard Bishop announced he too would join the pursuit for the office of mayor.

Rounding out the race is Atmore native and Campaign for Liberty proponent Chad Thrower, announced his candidacy soon after Staff and Bishop earlier this year.

Thrower said he is currently mapping out the direction he hopes to steer his campaign towards, and added he feels good about the progress that has been made.

“We’ve been working hard on several different aspects,” Thrower said. “I feel good about it and look forward to the months to come.”

During last week’s announcement, Albritton said he believes his history in Atmore, combined with years of business experience, will give him an upper hand in the race.

“I was born in this town of Atmore in 1947. I grew up here,” Albritton said. “The Albrittons hail from the community of Nokomis. We are not listed among Atmore’s elite, wealthy or influential, but we are not a family without a reputation for hard work, honesty and intellect.”

Albritton served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a Vietnam veteran. He also spent years working in the private sector in the manufacturing and financial services fields.

“I have acquired many varied experiences during my working career of over 45 years,” Albritton said. “I know how to organize things, lead people, and analyze financial data. I went back to college after retirement and completed my Masters Degree in Psychology. My mind is sharp and my health is good. I believe I am well qualified to serve this city as its mayor and I believe this city is in need of new ideas and new leadership.”

Bishop, who currently serves as district bishop for Deliverance Ministry of Jesus Christ church, is also the current president of Atmore’s United Fund and heads up several annual events through his Dr. Bernard Bishop Ministries organization.

Bishop said he is excited about the opportunity to run for mayor and pleased with his campaign’s progress thus far.

“My campaign is going really well,” Bishop said. “We’ve got a lot of pastors and a lot of churches that are pulling for us, many business owners. We’ve got a lot of supporters right now.”

Bishop said he first decided to join the race after speaking with people from all around the Atmore community,

“That’s the reason I put my name in the hat. Because we had several business owners and church leaders that talked to us about considering that position,” Bishop said. “That was one of the reasons we wanted to do it, besides our complete love for the community.”

Bishop said his primary focus right now is getting voters registered.

“We’re working now on getting individual registered,” he said. “There are a lot individuals in all of the districts who are not registered, so we’re working on a voter registration campaign trying to get those individuals who aren’t registered to register.”

Bishop said he and his family are also working to ensure his candidacy for mayor meets the qualifications set forth by the city, including living within the confines of the city limits.

“We are making final preparations to move into the city as we speak,” Bishop said. “We researched all the requirements and all the documentation of what’s got to be and when it’s got to be and the timelines. We have everything in order and we know where we’ve got to be and when we’ve got to be there.”

The final deadline for meeting the designated qualifications for candidacy is May 28, 2012; however the residency rules for candidates states he or she must reside inside the City of Atmore at least 90 days prior to the election date of Aug. 28.

As the campaign docket continues to grow, Staff said he is continuing to work towards progressing his own campaign while juggling his duties with the city. Staff has also served as mayor pro tem on several occasions over the last six months, stepping in when Mayor Shell has been unavailable.

Paraphrasing John F. Kennedy after declaring, Staff said “ask not what your city can do for you, ask what you can do for your city.”