News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Janie Baker Clarke and Chess Bedsole for auditor

If you prefer that fresh scrubbed look in your politicians, the Republican race for state auditor might be to your liking.

The three young male candidates for the nomination can dazzle a voter with pedigrees.

The lone female in the race, Samantha "Sam" Shaw knows politics, too. Her husband is running for re-election to the state Court of Criminal Appeals. As a professional accountant, she sees the auditor's responsibility focusing on taking care of the state's $1.6 billion in assets.

Take Tripp Skipper, 30, of Auburn. He's worked for U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, and Reps. Robert Aderholt and Mike Rogers. In his extra time, he's managed to be pastor of Wadley Baptist Church.

He's articulate and knowledgeable about the role of auditor but a bit idealistic.

He thinks he can persuade the Legislature to place the Examiners of Public Accounts under the auditor's office and take control away from the senators and representatives.

Then, there is Wes Allen who will turn 31 this summer and who understands the relationship between politics and football. His coup was to get the early backing of former Auburn head football coach Pat Dye and The University of Alabama's former coach Gene Stallings. He's director of athletics for development at Troy University, but played football for Coach Stallings and Coach Mike Dubose.

He comes from a political background. His father is a three-term member of the Legislature from Tuscaloosa. His grandfather was a four-time county commissioner.

He says he wants to make a difference is state government and believes that as a walk-on football player at Alabama he's tough enough to get the job done.

But it is Chess Bedsole, 35, a Birmingham attorney, who is the most impressive. He comes from South Alabama political stock that has names like McCorquodale, Ivey and his own, Bedsole.

It is his knowledge of the auditor's role and his ability to articulate the scope of the office, though, which makes you think this guy's done his homework.

The office, he said, "needs to be more transparent."

THE DAILY recommends Chess Bedsole for the Republican nomination for auditor.

The Democrats

Democrats offer contrasts to the Republican candidates. You might call them seasoned. You might see some of them as a bit shopworn.

Charley Baker, at 67, is a former assistant auditor who ran for the office and lost in 1994. He then ran for the Public Service Commission in 1996 and lost that race, too.

There also is Wayne Sowell of Birmingham who might be called a perennial candidate. His last campaign was for U.S. Senate against Sen. Richard Shelby in 2004.

That leaves Janie Baker Clarke, who also comes from a political background. Her great uncle, the late Olin Hearn; her father, the late Excell Baker and her brother, John Baker, all served in the Alabama Legislature. In 1998, Ms. Clarke came close to unseating Associate Supreme Court Justice Gorman Houston.

After graduating from Crossville High School in 1964, Mrs. Clarke taught school while getting her law degree as a single parent for 17 years, and raised two sons.

Her campaign pledge is direct and refreshing:

She pledges to serve in a professional and kind manner, with "utmost respect" for taxpayers and employees of the office.

THE DAILY recommends Janie Baker Clarke for the Democratic nomination for state auditor.

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