A candidate for Limestone County Commission who lost a ballot challenge last month has officially decided to run as an independent.
LaDon Townsend is challenging Republican incumbent Ben Harrison for the District 4 seat. Townsend, who claims to be a lifelong Republican, was prevented from appearing on the March 3 primary ballot by the Alabama Republican Party.
He recently announced his campaign would continue, but did not officially announce his candidacy as an independent until this week.
To appear on the Nov. 3 general election ballot as an independent candidate, Townsend needs to collect 194 signatures by Tuesday, March 3. That number represents 3% of District 4 voters who voted in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
As of Friday, Townsend said he had more than 300 signatures. He wants to collect as many as possible in case some are disallowed. He also wants to make a statement to the Republican Party.
“I wouldn't care if I got 5,000 (signatures),” he said.
Earlier this week, Townsend hosted an event in which registered voters could stop by and provide their signatures. He plans to hold additional events from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at Owens Community Center on Alabama 99 and from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Gin House restaurant in Elkmont.
“It saddens me that the Alabama GOP has removed me from the (Republican) primary ballot,” Townsend said. “Constituents in District 4 have lost their right to choose who they want to vote for in the primary. I hope voters will come out in waves in November to make their voices heard.”
If Townsend wins in November, he would be the first independent candidate to win an election in Limestone County. Former Limestone County District Attorney Kristi Valls ran as an independent in a bid for district attorney in 2016, but received 45.9% of the vote compared to 54% for Republican incumbent Brian Jones.
About the challenge
The challenge to Townsend's candidacy was filed by Eric Redd, who previously ran as a Republican for Limestone County sheriff in 2014 and 2018.
Redd, in a recent statement to The News Courier, sought to clarify why he filed the challenge against Townsend. He said the fact Sheriff Mike Blakely and former District 4 Commissioner Bill Daws, both Democrats, have Townsend campaign signs in their yard was not the sole reason why he filed his challenge.
“There was so much more to my challenge than who might have signs in their yards, and I hope people will realize that,” he said in the statement. “The signs were just one small piece of a much larger picture.”