Primary around corner

Published 4:58 am Saturday, March 10, 2012

A low voter turnout is expected Tuesday as the first chance for choices in the 2012 election is made available in a primary election. Polls will be open across the county from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Since the race for the seat of U.S. representative for the First Congressional District is only being sought by Republicans, the winner of that seat could be determined by Tuesday’s primary.

Pete Gounares, Pete Riehm and Dean Young all have hopes of taking the seat from incumbent Jo Bonner.

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Bonner, was first elected to the position in 2002 and is now in his fifth term having been re-elected in 2012. Born in Selma and raised in Camden, he serves on the House Appropriations Committee; the Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee; the defense subcommittee and the Financial Services subcommittee. In January 2011, he was named chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

Gounares is a developer in Orange Beach who was born and raised in Mobile and Baldwin County. He received his degree in Marine Affairs after four years of studying international trade and shipping business. He then returned to Baldwin County and opened his first business, an information forwarding company. He soon became a partner of his father George in developing the Village of Tannin, a New Urban community.

Young, an Orange Beach businessman, is also hope to unseat Bonner in the upcoming elections. Young, 47, describes himself as an entrepreneur involved in business ventures including real estate, property rental and marketing. He has also political experience at the state level working with Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore as an aid, opposing local tax measures and running for office of lieutenant governor in 2010, dropping from the running when Kay Ivey entered the arena for the office.

Riehm, a Mobile real estate agent, retired from the military in 2005 and developed a career in commercial real estate. From 2007-2009, he was a member of the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee and also served as chairman of the Mobile GOP. The candidate joined the Tea Party movement in 2009 and became a central figure in its organization in the Mobile and surrounding areas. Until recently, he has been the executive director for the Common Sense Campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan grassroots movement.
Also on the ballot in next week’s primary will be the race for the District 1 seat on the Alabama state Board of Education. Two Republican candidates will be on Tuesday’s ballot with no Democrat candidate having qualified.

Tracy Roberts, of Spanish Fort, and Jessica James, of Mobile, are both vying for the seat. James is seeking her first public office, although she was a candidate for a seat on the Tuscaloosa City Council in 2005. Roberts, a former substitute teacher, has been the District 7 representative on the Baldwin County Board of Education since 2004.

The District 1 seat, which became available when Randy McKinney, a R-Orange Beach, decided not to seek re-election, includes most of Mobile County and all of Baldwin, Escambia, Conecuh, Covington, Butler and Crenshaw counties.