Three Republican candidates will be on the ballot Tuesday vying to be the Republican candidate for the State Senate District 13 seat previously held by Gerald Dial, who is not seeking re-election.
District 13 encompasses parts of Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Lee and Randoph counties, as well as Auburn and Opelika.
Cleburne County resident Tim Sprayberry, who narrowly lost the primary to Dial in 2014 and is now retired, is on the ballot again.
He said taxes are the cornerstone of his campaign and what sets him apart from the other two candidates on the ballot.
"There’s three of us in the Republican primary, and on most issues we pretty much agree on everything," he said. "But my two opponents are both on record as supporting new taxes, specifically the gas tax. They’re both Dial protégés.
"I’ve always kind of been glad to be the outsider. I pride myself a little bit in being the oddball."
Sprayberry describes himself as a constitutional conservative, pro-life, a supporter of the Second Amendment and pro-business.
He said he'd like to bring an "openness" to the office if he were to win, a trait he said was lacking during Dial's tenure.
"We need to move away from the sweetheart deals," said Sprayberry, who cited repealing the state's film tax credit as one step he would support. "I would offer a bill to repeal that. It’s a sweetheart deal that benefits a very few and costs a lot of working Alabamians."
Sprayberry added that he thinks education is important and that he wants to see more focus on vocational training.
"We’re seeing a time now in our society where if you need an air conditioner unit worked on, you’ve got a three-day wait to get somebody to come in and then they’re charging you $85 dollars an hour for that labor," he said, adding that the state needs to work toward backfilling those jobs."
Education and workforce development are also highlights of Opelika resident Randy Price's platform as a way to promote economic development.
"We need to make sure that our young people in high school have the opportunity to look at the direction that they’re wanting their future to go," said Price, citing both college and vocational training as options. "We need to make sure ...those opportunities are available to our young people where if they decide to go toward a technical field that they have the opportunity to pursue that."
Price added that economic development and job recruitment and opportunity are important issues for him. He also tied in infrastructure improvements to those issues.
"Well, infrastructure and economic development go hand in hand. If you don’t have what is necessary, as far as infrastructure, it makes it awful difficult, from a job recruitment standpoint, to be able to recruit those industries to come into your area."
He added that he thinks state legislators need to look at the options available for funding improvements, from tightening the fiscal belt to other measures.
"We have not seen a gas tax, if you want to call it that, since 1992 in the state of Alabama," he said. "So what we have to do is evaluate what our options are and then proceed from there."
The third candidate on the ballot, Mike Sparks, did not respond to The Villager's requests for an interview.
Sparks, an Auburn University graduate, worked for nearly 40 years at the Department of Forensic Sciences and is now retired, according to his campaign website.," which indicates that he is for building safer communities by a tough-on-crime approach, increasing support for education and taking a collaborative approach to economic development that "uses incentives wisely."
The polls for Tuesday's primary election open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.