Jefferson County commissioner Jim Carns Tuesday said he would not seek reelection to the seat that he has held for one term.
Carns, a Republican, is one of two commissioners who believe the county should file for bankruptcy in hopes of discharging some of the $3.2 billion of sewer debt its system cannot repay because it owes penalty rates and accelerated principal payments.
In a release Carns said he ran for office “to bring a successful solution to the county’s fiscal problems. For the last three-and-a-half years, I feel that I have been going 90 miles an hour on a bridge to nowhere. It is time for me to move on.”
In the summer of 2008, when Gov. Bob Riley became involved in attempting to reach a sewer debt restructuring, Carns said he was “left out of the loop in all negotiations” and received no progress reports.
All five Jefferson County Commission seats are up for reelection this fall. The primary is in June. It is now likely that at least four new commissioners will be in office by November. In addition to Carns, commission President Bettye Fine Collins had already announced she would not run again. Collins also is a Republican.
Commissioner William Bell, a Democrat, this week was sworn in as mayor of Birmingham. A special election will be held in June for a candidate to fill the remaining nine months of Bell’s term on the commission. Bell’s seat also will be on the ballot in November for the next four-year term.
Commissioner Shelia Smoot, a Democrat, has announced she is running for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, who has resigned to run for governor.
Collins, Bell, and Smoot consistently voted against the county filing for bankruptcy. Only commissioner Bobby Humphryes has said he will seek reelection. Humphryes, a Republican, also believes that Jefferson County should file for bankruptcy to deal with the sewer debt problem.