Meet the three Democrats who qualified for seat vacated by the retiring Oliver Robinson

By Barnett Wright

The Birmingham Times

The Alabama State House in Montgomery, AL
The Alabama State House in Montgomery, AL

Three Democrats have qualified to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of state Rep. Oliver Robinson, D-Birmingham.

Rolanda Hollis
Rolanda Hollis
Rodney Huntley
Rodney Huntley

Rolanda Hollis, a realtor; James T. Howell (not pictured), a Center Point City Council member and Rodney Huntley, a former neighborhood association president qualified for the District 58 seat.

No Republicans qualified.

The primary election is set for March 7 and, if needed, a runoff election is scheduled for May 23.

Robinson retired in November saying he wanted to avoid conflicts after his daughter took a job with Gov. Robert Bentley.

Hollis, 49, is a graduate of West End High School and has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Tuskegee University. She has run previously for the Birmingham City Council.

Huntley, 57, is a former warden at the Childersburg Community Work Center and past president of the Maple Grove neighborhood association.  He has an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Jefferson State Community College, and a bachelor’s degree in human resources and master’s in management from Faulkner University in Baldwin County. He has run previously for the Birmingham City Council and the Jefferson County Commission.

Howell, 70, is a member of the Center Point City Council and a retired businessman. He has lived in the district for more than 50 years and attended Hooper City High School. He has a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee State and a master’s degree from the University of Alabama and served in the U.S. Army for 28 years. He has served as an officer in the neighborhood participation program and previously run for the Birmingham City Council and Alabama Legislature.

Robinson, 56, announced in late November that he will retire from the Alabama House of Representatives.

The Birmingham Democrat served District 58 for the past 18 years.

In a one page press release, Robinson said he wanted to step aside to allow his daughter to become Governor Robert Bentley’s liaison to the House of Representatives.

Robinson ran unopposed for re-election in 2014, and first won election to the House in 1998. He is vice chair of the Jefferson County Legislative Delegation and a former chair of the House Government Operations Committee and served on the House Education Policy, Financial Services, Military and Veterans Affairs and Rules committees.