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January 29, 2008

Fields gets historic win

The victory party started early at James Fields’ political headquarters in Cullman as preliminary results indicated a win for the State House District 12 special election held Tuesday.

Denise Learned’s announcement of the City Hall results showed Fields leading his opponent, Republican Wayne Willingham 51-29 sparked a barrage of cheers and clapping at the Democrat office.

Further totals would prove the first box results to be a microcosm of the election as Fields beat Willingham by 1,188 votes, taking 59.34 percent of the ballots.

“History is being made tonight,” said Sen. Hinton Mitchem, who supported Fields. The 54-year-old resident of Colony already made history this year when he became the first black person to win a party nomination to represent the district in the Legislature.

Cullman County’s population is more than 96 percent white and 1 percent black according to statistics from the Cullman Economic Development Agency.

Fields said he does not feel the color of his skin was an important matter in the election.

“Being an African American just doesn’t matter,” Fields said. “I think it’s a historical moment because we were given an opportunity to run.”

Fields will complete the term of fellow Democrat Neil Morrison, who resigned in August to accept a position as interim president at Bevill State Community College.

Mitchem was not the only state politician waiting for results at the Cullman Civic Center where ballots were being counted.

“He will keep up the same tradition that I think we’ve had in this county of good legislators,” Nancy Worley, vice-chair of the Alabama Democratic Party, said. “I think Cullman County will be very well represented.”

State Democratic Chairman Joe Turnham agreed.

“Mr. Fields’ victory is a victory for all of Cullman County,” he said. “James Fields is going to be able to transverse a lot of the divide that exists not only in this county politically, but in Montgomery.”

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