Ex-felon running for Tuscaloosa City Council causing controversy

Alabama News

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — With four days until the municipal elections in Tuscaloosa, there’s controversy in a City Council race.

It’s in District 7 between incumbent Sonya McKinstry who is facing businessman Cassius Lanier.  His criminal record has come into question although he served his time and has had his voting rights restored.

Lanier says he has turned his life around.  Nearly 20 years ago, he served jail time for drug charges, but he is now the owner of Lanier Automotive and he is a college graduate from Stillman College who says he is the right person for the city council seat.

“I’ve experienced life on the wrong side of the tracks but guess what, I changed and turned my life around and I know how to change because I am an element of change,” Lanier said. “And so when I see something that needs to be done, I am the perfect man for the job because I transformed my life.”

Lanier often talks to young people about his felony and his past hoping to keep them from going down the same road he did.  

“See where Cassius Lanier is now, I am a business owner and a college graduate and a community activist and a giver to my community who fights for them,” Lanier said. “I grew up a fighter and I will fight for District 7.  I am ready to make positive changes and I will do a good job if elected.”

Mckinstry says her record speaks for itself.  She has always been outspoken on fighting crime in her district, and now she has her sights set on helping to bring a sportsplex to the old McFarland Mall property that’s owned by businessman Stan Pate.  The mall was demolished this week.

” It’s always about what I’ve done in my district and we’ve always run a clean campaign and days away from the election we will continue that,” McKinstry said. “I think people should vote to re-elect me because they can see the proven leadership that we’ve provided in the district.  You know I am very transparent about things going on in our community.”

McKinstry has worked as a Judicial Assistant in the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court for roughly two decades as her main employment. She is also a co-owner of McKinstry Banquet Hall.  If Lanier wins the election but doesn’t receive an eligibility certificate of election by May 17, the City Council will have to appoint someone to serve in the District 7 seat.

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