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How Democrat Danny Carr became first black elected DA in Jeffco

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Jefferson County District Attorney candidate Danny Carr meets with supporters after the polls closed Tuesday November 6, 2018.. (Frank Couch for The Birmingham Times)
By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times

Jefferson County District Attorney candidate Danny Carr meets with supporters after the polls closed Tuesday November 6, 2018.. (Frank Couch for The Birmingham Times)

Danny Carr, chief deputy Jefferson County District Attorney, who had served as DA on an interim basis before being replace now has the job on a permanent basis.

Carr defeated Republican Mike Anderton, with 56.72 percent, or 140,666 votes to Anderton’s 43.24 percent or 107,248 votes to become the county’s first black elected DA.

“Tonight is history, but tonight is not history about me, but it’s history about you,” he told supporters.

In the sheriff’s race, Mark Pettway, the Democrat challenger, also made history by defeating incumbent Republican Mike Hale to become the first black sheriff in Jefferson County.

Carr, 47, who has been with the Jefferson County DA’s office since 2000 after he graduated from Miles School of Law, said he had to outwork his opponent.

“I had to put my feet on the ground, I had to pound the pavement. I had to go to all the communities I had to go to all the churches and make sure people knew my story and my qualifications,” Carr said.

During his election night victory party, the DA-elect spoke of his humble beginnings.

“I wasn’t supposed to be here, because the naysayers would say that a young man from Ensley, from the other part of town, raised by a single mother … going to Miles School of Law, there’s no way he should be district attorney,” said Carr, who was born and raised in Birmingham and attended city schools.

Carr also talked about challenges he had to face.

He was appointed DA in January 2017 by Presiding County Circuit Judge Joseph Boohaker to fill the seat of former DA Charles Todd Henderson, who was removed from office on perjury charges. Anderton served in the seat, after Republican Gov. Kay Ivey tabbed him to replace Carr and serve out the remaining term.

“I was told I wasn’t good enough (he said about not being reappointed). But it had nothing to do with ability it had everything to do with politics.”

When Ivey replaced Carr that left a bitter taste for many voters.

Cynthia Moore of West End voted for Carr because he was the most qualified candidate and he had the office and “they took it from him so we [wanted] to put him back in for district attorney,” she said.

Reginald Mason, of Birmingham’s Southside, said Carr was a man of good character. “I know him from growing up in the community and the surrounding area so I think he’s a good fit for what the community needs,” Mason said.

Carr said the office will continue to prosecute the cases “because that’s what we do. Public safety is our No 1 priority. At the same time, we’re going to make sure that it’s done fair, that it’s done respectfully . . . done in a transparent manner and that we make sure victims of crime know we’re there to stand up for them.”

Anderton, who has been with the Jefferson County DA’s office for nearly 35 years, started his legal career in the Fifth Judicial Circuit in Alexander City as an assistant DA in 1982 and joined the Jefferson County DA’s office in 1984.

William Singleton III contributed to this article.