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The Ex-felon Who Became a City Councilman

Nearly twenty years ago Cassius Lanier was convicted of a felony, he served jail time for drug charges, his criminal record has come into question although he served his time. Lanier stated, "I served my time and restored my right to vote by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, and I have turned my life around since I was released, I have become successful. That’s proof that past deeds don’t represent the present." This is a prime example that the system really does work. When voters elect a public official, once deemed a public threat, by the criminal justice system, and now elected to represent the constituents that put them in office across the United States, from Connecticut to Virginia, Michigan to New Hampshire and Oregon to Oklahoma. Just to name a few of the places where former prisoners have been voted into office, and now Alabama is added to the list.

Cassius Lanier wins the election with less than 30 votes, a political newcomer and local business owner Cassius Lanier defeated Tuscaloosa City Council District 7 incumbent, Sonya McKinstry in Tuesday’s March 2, 2021 Tuscaloosa Municipal Election. Lanier garnered 749 votes, while McKinstry picked up 724. There are four outstanding provisional ballots, but even if all four were cast for McKinstry she would still lose. Lanier was excited today and ready to serve Tuscaloosa. He so overwhelmed by the support that District 7 and Tuscaloosa came out and gave him. 

His motto is "Working to win, so I can win to work," and he is ready to get to work. He stated "I'm excited about working with my fellow city council members, and I want to build a united front, getting together with new ideas to move Tuscaloosa forward, working with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, an excited that he won a fifth term. Lanier stated, "I have already got plenty of plans for when I take office, for the first 100 days, I've already got an advisory board for the district with ambassadors in each neighborhood of the district, so that they can know the needs and the concerns of the citizens, so we can meet those needs immediately. I can’t do this alone, and I wouldn’t want to do it alone, because it’s not about me.”

Cassius Lanier stated "I did everything necessary to be prepared for this moment. I am a business owner, a college graduate, a community activist and a giver to my community, who fights for them. I grew up a fighter and I will fight for District 7, and I am ready to make positive changes." This is a prime example that the system really does work. It's not as hard as you would think, to get your voting rights back. Voter suppression is a strategy that is used to influence, discourage, and prevent specific groups of people from voting. This tactic is still used and very effective today.

Judge Nullifies District 7 Election; Cassius Lanier Says He'll Run Again

Tuscaloosa’s District 7 City Council race is once again undecided after a Jefferson County judge ruled the winner was not eligible for office at the time of the election. Cassius Lanier, who won against District 7 City Council Member incumbent Sonya McKinstry, was pardoned on April 13 for five criminal offenses he served prison time for more than a decade ago.

The judge ruled that Lanier was not eligible to run for the election because he was not pardoned before the election on March 2. The decision means the election results are void and the vacancy will be filled as prescribed by law. That means the city will be setting up a special election for the District 7 race. Because Lanier is now pardoned for his former offenses, he is eligible to run for public office and said he will do so in the upcoming special election. (The Tuscaloosa City Council District 7 Special election is July 27, 2021.)

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