On Tuesday, Joe Lovvorn stood on the Lee County Courthouse lawn in front of his two sons, each holding one of their grandfathers’ Bibles, and was sworn into office as state representative for House District 79 by Probate Judge Bill English.
Lovvorn officially took office at midnight on Sept. 22, after Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill announced Lovvorn as the winner of the District 79 seat.
So far in his first week in office, Lovvorn has met with House Speaker Mac McCutcheon once and plans to meet with him again tomorrow.
“I went to Montgomery today to do the paperwork … and to get the information I needed,” Lovvorn said. “I met with Speaker McCutcheon and went over some priorities and just sort of laid the groundwork of his thinking and my thinking of where I should be on committee assignments and what’s important to the district. We’re going to meet again tomorrow and talk further about that, and I look forward to engaging him.”
Lovvorn said he felt the meeting was productive.
“We have a lot of the same goals,” he said. “He’s a former police officer, and I’m a firefighter, so we speak the same language on a lot of things.”
While Lovvorn waits on committee assignments, he says he will continue listening to the people of the district.
“Right now, I’m just doing what I’ve been doing throughout the campaign,” he said. “I’m going to continue to engage the community and find out what priorities are for the district.”
After being sworn in and receiving his state House pin and a kiss from his wife, Jenifer, Lovvorn signed the oath of office and posed for photographs with his family and close friends who came to congratulate him.
“I feel completely honored and excited to be chosen by the community to represent on a state level,” he said. “It’s overwhelming."
While the voters’ support may feel overwhelming for Lovvorn, the job that lies before him does not.
“I tell you it’s setting in. It’s here,” he said. “I’m not overwhelmed; I’m just excited. To serve the state in Montgomery is something I won’t take lightly."
Lovvorn won the majority vote against three other Republican candidates in the special-called primary on Sept. 13. He received 51.29 percent of the votes.
When Secretary Merrill announced there would be no general election held for the House District 79 seat, his news release said no other party successfully met the requirements to appear on the general election ballot. For Gage Fenwick, an Auburn University student, that was not for lack of trying.
Fenwick submitted petitions to appear on the ballot as a third-party, Libertarian candidate, but once verified, his list fell short on the required number of signatures needed to appear on the ballot.
According to the Secretary of State's news release, any third-party candidate is required to submit a petition with 300 or more signatures of voters who reside in the district if he or she wants to appear on the general election ballot.
Fenwick posted a response to the announcement on Facebook, saying he was told he only needed 276 signatures and received no word from the Secretary's office before hearing Lovvorn was declared the winner through a news release.
"The campaign was informed that it needed 276 signatures from Director of Elections Ed Packard back in July," Fenwick wrote. "There is now concern that the campaign was either given the wrong number to begin with or that a new standard was reached, and the Secretary of State's office failed to inform the campaign. It is important to remember that Alabama has the second worse ballot access laws in the nation."
Fenwick said he would continue to "fight for liberty" and that his campaign will review the report supplied by the Secretary to learn how many more signatures were needed.
A special election was called for the House District 79 seat by Gov. Robert Bentley after it was vacated by former Speaker Mike Hubbard, following his conviction on 12 felony ethics charges earlier this year.