Sheila Tyson and Lashunda Scales were sworn into office as Jefferson County commissioners Wednesday, along with Steve Ammons, a former Vestavia Hills City Council member. Tyson and Scales are Democrats; Ammons is a Republican. The Republican majority continues on the commission with incumbents Jimmie Stephens and Joe Knight.
Stephens holds on to his job as commission president and Scales is second in command as president pro tempore.
In their new roles, Tyson and Scales will head committees that address some of their major campaign platforms. Scales will lead the environmental services or sewer committee after campaigning on the need to lower county sewer rates.
Tyson is chairperson for the health care committee, which includes Cooper Green Mercy Health Services. Steve Ammons will lead economic development.
Tyson’s district stretches from Fountain Heights to Bessemer. She says there’s a lot of poverty in the district and many residents rely on Cooper Green Mercy Health Services, a hospital the county runs to care for the indigent.
The hospital should be run by a health care authority, Tyson says. Health care for the poor should not be pieced together “to where the citizens won’t have an opportunity to get good treatment,“ she says.
Jefferson County has started talks with UAB Health Systems to establish a university health authority.
Tyson says she also wants help for residents who struggle to pay their high sewer and water bills.
Scales has had her share of battles in the Birmingham council chambers. The county and the city historically have not had a good relationship, but Scales says she wants to change that.