Jim Woodward running for Jefferson County sheriff again

Jim Woodward (source WBRC video)
Jim Woodward (source WBRC video)

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Former Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Woodward wasted no time Thursday in attacking current sheriff Mike Hale as he announced his desire to reclaim the job he lost eight years ago.

Woodward, 73, held a news conference Thursday morning, announcing he had filed paperwork to run for Jefferson County Sheriff in the Republican primary. Woodward said his main reason for running is to fix what he calls "mismanagement" in the sheriff's office.

"What motivated me to run again, I sit back and see a waste of money going on down there and the pure cronyism," Woodward said. "Pure cronyism."

Woodward served as sheriff from 1996 until 1999, when Mike Hale defeated him in the 1998 sheriff's election by 37 votes.  Woodward contested the election results saying suspected felons had cast absentee ballots, and a judge later that year agreed and overturned the election results, giving the victory to Woodward.

However, in 2006, Woodward and his attorney, Albert Jordan, were convicted on charges they conspired to illegally use criminal databases to contest the 1998 sheriff's election.  Woodward and Jordan served six months probation.

"I was put through 11 years of torment," Woodward said. "It attempted to destroy me over pure politics."

In 2002, Hale defeated Woodward in the Republican primary for sheriff.  Hale went on to win the general election and retook control of the sheriff's office in 2003.

On Wednesday, Woodward wasted little time in attacking Hale, his chief Republican opponent, accusing him of mismanaging the office.

"He can't operate the sheriff's office on $51 million," Woodward said. "Give me the opportunity to run on on $51 million. I will open up that Bessemer Jail and there won't be any deputies laid off."

Woodward also accused Hale of hiring political supporters and relatives. Hale's chief deputy, Randy Christian, denied Woodward's allegations.

"I don't know what he is talking about," Christian said. "The sheriff has five appointments. Everyone else goes through the merit system. I came up in the merit system. 29 years. He is grasping at straws."

Christian also said voters will not relect Woodward.

"I know the people in this county have no interest in a public official who has been convicted in federal court," Christian said.

Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.