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July 11, 2014

Holly Pond town hall sign endorsing candidate may violate state code

HOLLY POND — A sign at Holly Pond’s town hall, which endorses the reelection of incumbent sheriff Mike Rainey, appears to contradict election guidelines in the Code of Alabama.

Section 17-17-5 in Title 17 (Election Offenses) of the Code of Alabama forbids a state, county, city or local school board employee from using governmental agency funds, property or time for political activities.

The sign in front of Holly Pond’s town hall reads, “Reelect Mike Rainey sheriff Cullman County.” Rainey is a Holly Pond native.

Herman Nail, the mayor of Holly Pond, said he personally changes the message on the sign, but noted the content displayed there comes at the request of local residents.

“Anyone can request something be put on the sign,” Nail said. “If you ask me, I’ll give you a place to do it.”

Nail said a local woman requested that Rainey’s endorsement be placed on the sign, and he is unsure of the individual’s relationship with Rainey or his campaign.

The sign is owned by the municipality of Holly Pond and is on town property.

According to Nail, Holly Pond does not endorse Rainey as the candidate, nor does the town endorse any candidates, despite what the sign reads.

“If Matt Gentry (Rainey’s opponent in the sheriff’s race) or another candidate wanted space on the sign, I’d give it to them,” Nail said. “If that is not fair, then I don’t know what fair is.”

 The mayor, who said he was unaware of the specific state code, noted he would look into the situation and possibly remove the message and update the town’s procedure in which messages are placed on the sign if needed.

The town attorney, Dan Willingham, could not be reached by deadline of this article. Rainey and a representative from the Alabama League of Municipalities could also not be reached for comment.

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