By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala, – Charlotte Meadows won the special Republican primary runoff for State House District 74 Tuesday night amid some mechanical difficulties at the Montgomery election office.
Before any official election results had been announced late Tuesday night, Michael Fritz had already called to conceded to Meadows and statements of congratulations to Meadows had been sent.
The final vote tallies posted at the Montgomery County election office showed Meadows received 3,800 votes, or 55%, and Fritz received 3,101, or 45%. Voter turnout was 22%.
Meadows will face Democrat Rayford Mack in the November general election.
“I’m very happy, a little overwhelmed and it’s all a little surreal,” Meadows told Alabama Daily News a few hours before any ballots were counted. “But I got a phone call from Michael Fritz and that was a very positive conversation, so that makes it seem more real because evidently, he’s seeing the same numbers we’re seeing.”
Fritz said in an emailed statement about 40 minutes before the official results were posted that he was proud of the campaign he ran and supports Meadows in the general election.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the work our team put in throughout this runoff election,” Fritz said. “It looks like we’re going to finish at about 45% of the vote, but when you look at how many votes we got versus dollars we spent, our vote total is not something we’re going hang our heads over. At the same time, we didn’t win tonight; Charlotte Meadows did. I want to congratulate Charlotte for conducting a clean, well-run race. She has my full support as the Republican nominee in the general election. I feel sure Charlotte will serve the citizens of District 74 with the same tenacity and grace she exhibited during the campaign.”
Looking toward the November election, Meadows said she plans on running the same kind of campaign she did to get the Republican nomination.
“We’re of course not going to take this for granted, but since we plan on getting a lot of Republican support going forward, we’ll probably try to focus mostly on them,” Meadows said.
District 74 has been represented by a Republican since 1983. The seat was most recently held by restaurateur Dimitri Polizos until his death in March.
Meadows, board chair of LEAD Academy, a new charter school in Montgomery, and former Montgomery Public Schools board member, said that she will remain focused on improving education in the state and bringing economic development to District 74.
She also said that she would like to work together with whoever is elected in the Montgomery mayoral and city council elections on tackling the city’s crime problems.
“In Montgomery we are dealing with a lot of crime issues that is going to be something, once we see what the results are of the mayor’s race and city council’s race, I really do want to reach out to whoever is in those positions to see if we can collaborate to try to affect change along those lines,” Meadows said.
If she does ultimately win the seat, Meadows said she would like to look more at the business side of schools and try to help stop schools from wasting money.
“Kids are not widgets, but the business office can be run like a business office and I think that’s something that needs to be looked at more carefully for every school system,” Meadows said. “There are some things that can be done in that regard, and we need to pay attention to how schools spend money.”
Mack is a retired state worker and former Metro Montgomery NAACP president.
He told Alabama Daily News that he feels good about his chances of winning the seat and said his campaign will continue to focus on education, healthcare and job creation.
“Because if you have those three working then everything else seems to be okay,” Mack said. “You won’t have a problem with crime because everyone is working, and education and healthcare are tied to the crime rate because of mental health, and a lot of the cases the diagnosis are not made early enough in life which could have maybe sent the person in another direction.”
Mack said he is going to continue to get the word out about his campaign and continue to listen to people’s concerns.
“I’m not doing this for any special interest group or for any self-serving purpose,” Mack said. “I’m running for your children and my children to have the same future that I had and to be able to say that Montgomery is a nice place to live and retire.”
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrova, said in an emailed statement that he was proud of how both Republicans ran their campaigns.
“Both Michael Fritz and Charlotte Meadows should be commended for running positive, issues-driven campaigns that avoided negative attacks and adhered to President Reagan’s famous 11th Commandment,” McCutcheon said about the former president’s rule against speak ill of any fellow Republican.
“Charlotte has my full support in the general election, and I know she will prove to be a valuable addition to the Alabama House,” he said.