New Jefferson County Commission Takes Office With Three New Members

Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

Jefferson County commissioners Steve Ammons, Lashunda Scales, Shelia Tyson, Jimmie Stephens and Joe Knight confer at the start of their first meeting.

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.

More Elections 2018 Coverage

Erasing The Stain: 15,000 Pardoned Of Marijuana Possession Convictions

Mayor Randall Woodfin plans to pardon more than 15,000 Birmingham residents convicted of marijuana possession.

Jefferson County Nears Deal For New Humane Society

The plan is for Jefferson County to purchase lots one and two of the property, which would remain under county ownership. The Greater Birmingham Humane Society would purchase lot three and build an animal hospital and adoption control facility there.

Derek Chauvin Found Guilty Of George Floyd’s Murder

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, has been found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Past And Present Collide As Community Health Centers Strive To Close Rural Care Gaps In The Pandemic

Many rural health leaders believe community health centers, which were born in the 60s to reach low-income communities of color, were a missing piece in achieving equity in the vaccine rollout.

Birmingham Sets Up Civilian Board to Review Police Misconduct

The five-member board will have the authority to investigate citizen complaints and will have some subpoena powers to aid those investigations.

Big Union Loss At Amazon Warehouse Casts Shadow Over Labor Movement

Last week's overwhelming vote against forming a union at Amazon's Bessemer warehouse was the latest in a string of disappointments for labor unions. Now Amazon employees and union backers are trying to find a way forward.

More Elections 2018 Coverage