Tuscaloosa City Council candidate eligibility to serve in question

Questions around Tuscaloosa Co. Council candidate's eligibility to serve

TUSCALOOSA , Ala. (WBRC) - Election Day in Tuscaloosa is next Tuesday, but there are questions about one candidate’s eligibility to serve. Those questions are surrounding a candidate who happens to be a convicted felon. Cassius Lanier exclusively spoke to WBRC about this.

He is in fact a qualifying District 7 Tuscaloosa City Council candidate, meaning he will be on the ballot come next Tuesday. Since Lanier is a felon, he had to get his voting rights restored by the Alabama board of pardons and paroles to run, which he did.

However, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said if Lanier is elected but doesn’t receive a certificate of election eligibility by this same board no later than May 17, which is inauguration day, he cannot legally serve.

Cassius Lanier has shared his story in schools about his criminal past involving state and federal drug charges before the pandemic.

Lanier, who owns a car dealership in town and founded Tuscaloosa Community Unity, said he doesn’t want young people he mentors to take the wrong path, like he previously did.

“My mission is to reach the youth and let them know that being a felon doesn’t have to be their testimony. They need to get it right the first time and when you know better you do better,” said Lanier.

If Lanier wins the election but doesn’t receive an eligibility certificate of election by May 17, the Tuscaloosa City Council would be forced to appoint someone to serve in the District 7 seat for the next 4 years.

“The main thing people need to do is do research on their candidates,” said Merrill.

Lanier is running against incumbent Sonya McKinstry.

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