Newly elected officials start terms

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Three fresh faces to Shelby County politics officially started their terms of office this week.

In last year&8217;s elections, many incumbents cruised to victory or ran unopposed, leaving only the county&8217;s coroner, school superintendent and one state representative as the new kids on the block.

On Monday, Coroner Diana Steele Hawkins, Superintendent Randy Fuller and Rep. Greg Canfield all began their political careers.

Coroner wants training

Hawkins actually started her new job earlier this month when outgoing Coroner Doug Ballard, Jr. went on vacation. The 41-year-old was already a deputy coroner.

She beat Pelham police Lt. Sherwood Florence by 4,000 votes in last June&8217;s Republican primary to secure the title.

A graduate of UAB, she is one of only nine American Certified forensic death investigators in Alabama.

Hawkins said she has two goals as Shelby County&8217;s coroner: hurry up the time it takes to get a death certificate and provide better training for deputy coroners.

She acknowledges that the state is backed up with requests for death certificates, but said most of the blame rests at the local level.

&8220;The delay has been here in our office. Yes, the state&8217;s toxicology office is overburdened, but the delay has been here,&8221; she said. &8220;And that&8217;s going to be remedied.&8221;

Hawkins also wants her four deputy coroners to have training to become registered death investigators like she is. She said the additional instruction would allow the county to handle more complex autopsies.

&8220;I want the citizens to have pride in what we do,&8221; said Hawkins.

Fuller examines needs

Shelby County&8217;s next school superintendent, Randy Fuller, has actually been on the job since last fall.

Fuller went through a transition period with retiring superintendent Evan Major last year, and started full-time when Major took vacation leave in November.

Fuller said his jump-start has helped him tremendously with learning how things operate in the central office.

&8220;I really appreciate and thank Mr. Major for letting me come down and shadow him,&8221; said Fuller. &8220;This period have me a great working knowledge and better understanding of our system and its people.&8221;

Fuller said now the system must look at implementing school improvements and developing goals for his term.

&8220;We want look at each individual school and assess their needs and develop actual goals and realistic strategies,&8221; said Fuller.

Fuller defeated deputy superintendent Tom Ferguson by 850 votes in a July 18 run-off.

Canfield excited about house term

Greg Canfield will replace state representative Jim Carns in House District 48.

Canfield beat businesswoman Della Fancher by 525 votes in a July Republic run-off.

Carns chose not to seek re-election and instead ran a successful campaign for the Jefferson County Commission.

Canfield said he looks forward to his freshman year in office. He was appointed to the General Fund Ways and Means committee and also the House Election committee. &8220;I&8217;m excited about the challenges and opportunities that await,&8221; said Canfield. &8220;I&8217;m going to continue to focus on the things that are important in District 45.&8221;