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Wallace, Tarpley switch parties
Abortion issue part of reason pair joined GOP

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com · 340-2432

Morgan County school board members Carolyn Wallace and Mike Tarpley left the Democratic Party on Tuesday night and joined the Republican Party at its meeting at J.W.’s Steakhouse in Priceville.

Wallace, who represents District 2, said she switched parties because she “didn’t want to be called a baby killer anymore.” She said the change doesn’t have anything to do with the local Democratic Party and its members.

“I’m taking a stand on abortion,” Wallace said. “I told the Democrats years ago that they would lose me if they didn’t change their stance. This is my moral issue.”

Tarpley, who represents District 3, said he has been thinking about a switch for several years “because my beliefs and values line up more with the Republicans than the Democrats. Republicans stand for what I stand for.”

He said that he too opposes abortion.

Issue during campaign

Wallace conceded her stance on abortion has nothing to do with her job as a school board member but said it has come up in campaigns.

“I’ve been called a baby killer when I’ve been campaigning because of the Democrats’ support of abortion,” she said.

Both denied their switch has anything to do with the fact that Republicans have dominated recent elections. The two, along with District 6 board member Tom Earwood, are up for election again next year. Earwood is a Republican.

Wallace is the board’s senior member with 17 years. She ran unopposed three years ago and has been the only Democrat to win a school board seat in the past two elections. Incumbent Gary Cobb lost the District 7 school board seat to Republican newcomer Betty Hackett in 2004.

Kenneth Henson lost to Billy Rhodes in the District 1 Democratic primary in 2002, but switched to the Republican Party and regained the seat last year. Sylvia Halbrooks resigned in 1993, and the board appointed Tarpley to finish her term. He then lost to Kevin Murphy in the Democratic primaries in 1996 and 2002. Murphy switched to the Republican Party and then won a seat on the County Commission. The board then appointed Tarpley to fill the vacancy.

Despite rumors, Wallace said, she “does not plan on running” for county revenue commissioner against incumbent Amanda Scott.

She said she told Scott at the meeting that she doesn’t plan on running for revenue commissioner.

She said she considered running for license commissioner but incumbent Sue Baker Roan told her that she planned to seek re-election and Wallace said she won’t run against the Democrat.

“Right now, I plan on running for school board again,” Wallace said.

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