Write-in candidate takes aim at Bebe Heiskell

photo Ales Campbell, from left, Bebe_Heiskell

Ales Campbell's first name rhymes with "payless."

She spelled out the letters A-L-E-S on Aug. 24 when she delivered her notice of intent to run as a write-in candidate for the office of Walker County sole commissioner.

That's because supporters must type Campbell's name onto the screen of electronic voting machines in the Nov. 6 election.

"If they misspell it, as long as the intent is clear, it will count," Campbell said.

The 47-year-old school bus driver and mother of five was inspired to make her first run for public office after watching challenger G. Paul Shaw come within 211 votes of beating three-term Commissioner Bebe Heiskell in the July 31 Republican primary.

"It's a long shot, of course," Campbell said of challenging Heiskell as a write-in candidate. "But it's not something that's impossible."

Campbell worked as the social media coordinator for Shaw's campaign. She and her husband, K.C. Campbell, are longtime friends of Shaw and his wife, Irma.

The Campbells live south of LaFayette, Ga., and own a land surveying business.

She has adopted much of Shaw's campaign platform, including the pledge to give the county's voters the chance to replace the sole commissioner office with a five-member commission.

"They've not been allowed to have a vote on that or a voice on that for a very long time," Campbell said.

Under the system she envisions, county commissioners would be limited to serving two terms, and a commission chairman would run things on a day-to-day basis and vote only to break tie votes.

Elections Supervisor Barbara Berry said Walker County hasn't had a local write-in candidate since at least 1997.

Asked about her challenger, Heiskell said, "Really, I don't have a comment on it. Except that I was surprised."

All Campbell had to do to run as a write-in candidate was fill out a form. Running as an independent would have required gathering about 330 signatures of registered voters, or 1 percent of the roughly 33,000 voters registered in the county in 2008, according to Berry.

As a longtime Republican, Campbell said she didn't want to run as an independent.

By law, Shaw wasn't able to run as a write-in candidate because he lost in the primary. Shaw resigned as a Republican Party precinct chairman to endorse Campbell. Under Republican Party rules, he only could have endorsed Heiskell -- the winner in the primary -- if he had kept his precinct chairman seat, Campbell said.

Campbell has www.writeinales.com as her campaign's website.