House districts around Birmingham, Tuscaloosa hold runoff elections Tuesday: what to know

By: - October 23, 2023 1:01 pm
A "Vote Here sign," with black lettering on a white background, stands in front of a build. A man in a blue shirt in the background enters.

People enter a voting precinct to vote in the Michigan primary election at Trombly School Aug. 7, 2018 in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Two candidates, Brad Cox and Bryan Brinyark, are pictured side by side
Brad Cox (left) and Bryan Brinyark (right). (Photos courtesy of Cox and Brinyark, Graphic: Alander Rocha/Alabama Reflector)

Brian Brinyark

Age: 55

Residence: Windham Springs

Occupation: Lawyer and Centreville municipal court judge since 2005.

Education: B.A., Advertising, University of Alabama, 1990; J.D., University of Alabama School of Law, 1993.

Party: Republican

Previous political experience/campaign: First-time candidate.

Brad Cox

Age: 33

Residence: Fayette

Occupation: Banker at Alabama ONE Credit Union. Before, Cox was a high school teacher.

Education: B.S., Agricultural Education, Auburn University, 2012; M.A., Agricultural Education, Auburn University, 2013.

Party: Republican

Previous political experience/campaign: Fayette County Commissioner, District 1, 2021-present.

Voters in the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas go to the polls Tuesday to choose nominees for special runoff elections for the state House.

Two Republicans — Brad Cox and Brian Brinyark — are seeking their party’s nomination in the GOP runoff for House District 16, extending from Fayette County to north Tuscaloosa and western Jefferson counties.

In the Democratic runoff for House District 55, which includes portions of Birmingham and Fairfield, two Democrats — Travis Hendrix and Sylvia Swayne — are seeking their party’s nomination.

When do polls open?

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Where do I find my polling place?

The Alabama Secretary of State’s website allows you to check voter registration and the location of your polling place. You can find it here.

What do I need to vote?

Voters must present a valid photo ID before voting. Valid forms of ID include:

  • Alabama driver’s license (not expired or expired less than 60 days)
  • Alabama Law Enforcement Agency digital driver’s license
  • Alabama Non-Driver ID (not expired or expired less than 60 days)
  • Alabama Photo Voter ID card
  • State-issued ID (Alabama or any other state)
  • Federal-issued ID
  • U.S. Passport
  • Employee ID from the federal government; state of Alabama; county; municipality, board or other entity of Alabama
  • Student or employee ID from a public or private post-secondary educational institution in Alabama or other states (including colleges, universities, postgraduate technical and professional schools)
  • Digital student or employee ID from a public or private post-secondary educational institution in Alabama or other states (including colleges, universities, postgraduate technical and professional schools)
  • Military ID
  • Tribal ID

Where are the districts located?

House District 16 takes in Fayette County in north central Alabama; much of Tuscaloosa County north of I-20 and portions of western Jefferson County.

House District 55 takes in portions of south Birmingham and extends west out to Fairfield.

How did the seats become vacant?

In House District 16, former Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette resigned in June to become the CEO of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce.

In House District 55, former Rep. Fred Plump, D-Fairfield, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice over allegations of misuse of public funds, and resigned the seat in May.

Portraits of Candidates Travis Hendrix and Sylvia Swayne.
Travis Hendrix (left) and Sylvia Swayne (right). (Photos courtesy of Hendrix and Swayne, Graphic: Alander Rocha/Alabama Reflector)

Travis Hendrix

Age: 40

Residence: Birmingham

Occupation: Sergeant, Birmingham Police Department

Education: B.S., Criminal justice, Oakland City University, 2017; M.S.M. (Master’s in Strategic Management), Oakland City University, 2019

Party: Democratic

Previous political experience/campaign: Democratic candidate, Alabama House of Representatives District 55, 2022.

Sylvia Swayne

Age: 26

Residence: Birmingham

Occupation: Quality assurance manager, Shipt

Education: B.A., English, University of Alabama, 2019.

Party: Democratic

Previous political experience/campaign: Elected member of the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee, 2023-present.

Do the seats have partisan leanings?

House District 16 is strongly Republican. House District 55 is strongly Democratic.

South won House District 16 unopposed in 2018 and 2022. He took 75% of the vote in 2014. Plump was unopposed in last year’s general election in House District 55. Former Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, ran unopposed in 2014 and 2018.

What issues dominate the races?

Candidates in both contests said they wanted to bring jobs and additional economic development into their communities. In House District 16, candidates cited their desire to bring those businesses to reverse ongoing population loss in the district. In House District 55, many of the candidates said they wanted to work on public safety issues.

What happens after today?

The general election for both seats will take place on Jan. 9.

In House District 55, one of the two nominees in the Oct. 24 runoff will run unopposed and most certainly be elected in January.

In House District 16, either Brad Cox or Brian Brinyark — whoever gets the most votes on Tuesday — will face Democratic nominee John Underwood in January.

Will the results alter control of the House?

No. Republicans currently hold 75 of the 105 seats in the lower chamber of the state Legislature.

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Alander Rocha
Alander Rocha

Alander Rocha is a journalist based in Montgomery, and he reports on government, policy and healthcare. He previously worked for KFF Health News and the Red & Black, Georgia's student newspaper. He is a Tulane and Georgia alumnus with a two-year stint in the U.S. Peace Corps.