In a race packed with seven Democrats, it was no surprise when the ballots came in on Feb. 26 that there will be a run-off in April.
With 40.41 percent of the votes, Adline Clarke will face Karlos Finley, who received 24. percent. Only 2,279 votes were cast during the special election. Of those Clarke secured 921 and Finely 556.
Clarke was endorsed by the New South Coalition and members of the family of the late Rep. Yvonne Kennedy, who died Dec. 8, 2012, leaving the District 97 seat open.
She owns Black Classics Books & Gifts and Jambalaya and currently serves as Senior Vice President of Business and Community Relations for Mobile Development Enterprises, a subsidiary of the Mobile Housing Board.
During the Jan. 31 New South Coalition candidate forum, Clarke specified the biggest issue facing the district.
"The state and 97 have the same issue â€” unemployment and people being underemployed,â€ť she said. "We must find better jobs for people. Thereâ€™s a misconception that people in District 97 donâ€™t want to work, that theyâ€™re content in being unemployed. Thatâ€™s not the case.
"Airbus is coming, but it will barely make a dent in the unemployment rate. I would focus on attracting more businesses and bringing better jobs to the district.â€ť
Although Clarke almost received enough support to not have to face another election, there is still a question of whether her run is actually legal under the Hatch Act.
Clarke works for a subsidiary of the Mobile Housing Board, which receives federal funding.
The Hatch Act attempts to prohibit civil servants from taking part in partisan political activities. Some state and local civil servants who engage in seeking federal funding for programs are covered by the act, which means they cannot seek office.
No definitive answer has been given as to whether Clarke is allowed to run.
If she is allowed, she will once again square off against Finely, an attorney with Boteler, Finley and Wolfe who serves on the Board of Directors for the Dearborn Street YMCA and 15 Place Homeless Shelter.
When asked at the New South Coalition forum what the biggest issue facing the district is, Finley gave an unusual answer.
"The biggest issue is the Alabama State Constitution of 1901,â€ť he said. "Almost every issue stems from this horrible, horrible document. It is the 21st Century and we are still using a 20th almost 19th Century document. It is outdated.
"I would be remiss if I didnâ€™t mention jobs. Jobs are a huge issue. Airbus is coming and thatâ€™s great, but we need to focus on tier one and two suppliers. The north side of 97 is full of vacant warehouses and this is a perfect opportunity to house those suppliers.â€ť
The ballots cast, which are still unofficial, are as follows:
William Carroll 397 votes, 17.42 percent
Adline Clarke 921 votes, 40.41 percent
Karlos Finley 556 votes, 24.40 percent
Jeffery Jones 13 votes, .58 percent
Kimberly Williams Pettway 267 votes, 11.8 percent
Ronnie Wright 82 votes, 3.6 percent
Levi Wright Jr. 41 votes, 1.8 percent