3 more qualify to run in GOP primary
by Rachel Davis
Feb 04, 2014 | 2529 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As Republicans entered the second week of qualifying for the primary elections this summer, three new candidates threw their hats into the ring. Walker County Republican Party Chairman Keith Davis said James “Jim” Underwood qualified to run for sheriff, Jason Adkins will seek re-election for county superintendent of education and former coroner Joey Vick will seek that office again.

Underwood retired as a U.S. Marshal after 31 years and has 40 years total in law enforcement. He is a Walker County native who graduated from Walker High School and Walker College before getting a degree in police administration from Eastern Kentucky University. He said he also graduated top in his class from the FBI Academy in budget and management of law enforcement.

“I feel that I am the most experienced candidate,” Underwood said. “I have 40 years of experience. I’ve managed a law enforcement agency for the federal government for 16 years, which included 62 counties.” 

Underwood said he believed the sheriff’s office had a good group of core employees and he plans to give them direction, set goals and get the department’s finances in order so the sheriff’s office can provide the necessary duties for the citizens of the county.

Underwood and his wife, Linda, have been married 47 years and have two children and two grandchildren who live in other states.

He is also a member of New Prospect Baptist Church.

Most recently, Underwood has served as an investigator for the Walker County District Attorney’s Office. He currently has been there part-time for about a year and was previously employed there full-time for eight years.

“I feel that I’m the right person, at the right time, for the right reason,” Underwood said.

Underwood will face J.C. Poe and Steve Miller in the Republican primary on June 3.

Vick also believes that his experience in the position makes him the most qualified.

Vick, who served as Walker County Coroner from 2002 to 2008 when he resigned to take over as pastor of Nauvoo Church of God, is seeking the position of coroner again.

He said in 2008, when he became a first-time pastor he was concerned about managing the dual duties, but he now feels confident that he can do both jobs effectively.

“I am very confident I can fulfill the responsibilities of the office of coroner while pastoring my church,” Vick said.

Vick believes his 17 years of law enforcement experience is a vital part of the coroner’s responsibilities, enabling a coroner to make decisions about the circumstances of a death and when they warrant further investigation. He also believes his position as pastor gives him a unique perspective and the compassion to help those struggling with the death of a loved one.

“I just felt like it was an opportunity for me to get back into the coroner’s office so I could help people, because that’s what it’s all about,” Vick said.

Vick will be facing fellow Republican Mark Pendley in the primary election. Jeff Nelson is the lone Democrat qualified for coroner.

Adkins will seek re-election for Superintendent of Walker County Schools.

During his first term, Adkins said he was proud to see a change in the way area residents and those outside the county viewed the school system. He was also proud of cleaning out the central office and improving the financial state of the school system.

“It involved some decisions that were tough, but necessary,” Adkins said.

If reelected, Adkins said he would again like to focus on improving the county’s graduation rates and standardized testing scores, while improving the overall academic programs offered to county students. He would also like to expand the availability of advanced placement programs for students so all county high schoolers have the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school.

He said he also hopes to be able to see programs that are currently being developed to fruition. Among those, he mentioned the Industrial Maintenance program at the incubator, which is part of a partnership between the county school system, Jasper City Schools and Bevill State Community College, and a twilight program at the 180 Program to help students catch up if they’ve fallen behind and have to work during the day.

“We feel like we can catch students that might fall through the cracks,” Adkins said.

Adkins is currently unopposed by any other republicans or democrats.

Friday is the last day of qualifying for both parties.

The Walker County Democratic Party will be at the Probate Judge’s office all day Friday to take last-minute declarations of candidacy. Notaries will be on hand to assist the candidates.

The Walker County Republican Party will also be at the Probate Judge’s office Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. To reach members of the party about qualifying prior to Friday, contact Davis at 275-9501, Linda Ensor at 221-2026 or 302-2487 or Bruce Bennett at 387-1217.