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Wiggins, BOE’s Benjamin, Edwards to face challenges

News Staff Writer

Two members of the Escambia County Board of Education, including its presiding officer, will face challenges for their respective seats in the March 5, 2024 Super Tuesday primary, as will the chairman of the Escambia County Commission.
Chief Probate Clerk Natalie Rodgers reported that five of nine local incumbents had qualified for re-election as the qualifying period entered its second week.
Of those, BOE President Danny Benjamin, who has been on the school board for 35 years, and District 3 BOE member Mike Edwards, who is in his 12th year, will face opposition.
Greg Dawkins, who has served since 1998 as Internet Technology and Geographic Information Systems Manager for Southern Pine Electric Cooperative, qualified to challenge Benjamin; Jerry Wilson, who has worked at Georgia Pacific Brewton Mill for 14 years, will run against Edwards.
The other BOE member up for re-election is District 7’s Coleman Wallace. Wallace, who has been on the school board since 2012, had not qualified by 1:45 p.m. Monday, October 23, nor had anyone qualified to run against him.
County Commission Chair Raymond Wiggins, who has held the District 2 seat since 2008, will also be challenged. Lee Najor is a project manager with Crowder Gulf, a disaster mitigation company, and has qualified to seek Wiggins’s seat.
District 4 County Commissioner Brandon Smith, who was also elected in 2008, has qualified for re-election. No challengers had qualified to run against him by midafternoon October 23.
Escambia County Probate Judge Doug Agerton, who took office in 2012, has qualified for another six-year term and had drawn no opposition by midafternoon October 23.
Neither Circuit Judge Jeff White, District Judge Eric Coale nor Clerk of Court John R. Fountain had qualified by midafternoon October 23, nor had any challengers to either of them. The three ran without opposition in the last election cycle, as did Agerton.
All the present office holders who are up for re-election are Republicans, except Benjamin.
GOP members who intend to seek local office should call Jackie Gay, chair of the Escambia County Republican Executive Committee, at 251-809-4322 or email her at jgay1952@yahoo.com.
Lillian Dean is secretary of the Escambia County Democratic Party. Democrats wishing to qualify for local office may call her at 251-513-3357 or contact her by email at lilliandean62@gmail.com.
Several state offices are also up for grabs. Potential candidates for state office in either party can file a declaration of candidacy and pay qualifying fees either online or in person at the respective party’s state headquarters. (The declaration has to also be filed with the Alabama Secretary of State’s office.)
Republicans seeking state office can visit party headquarters at 3505 Lorna Road in Birmingham (35216) or visit www.algop.org.
Democratic state office-seekers can either visit their party’s headquarters at 501 Adams Avenue in Montgomery (36104) or search online for aldemocrats.org.
Qualifying for Republican and Democratic candidates will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 10, 116 days prior to the primary, as required by state law.

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