On May 18, Weston Spivey graduated high school from Ridgecrest Christian in Dothan.
In the June 5 primary elections, he beat incumbent Geneva County Commissioner Bryan Hatton for his District 1 seat.
“A lot of no’s and a lot of ‘there ain’t no way you can win this race with who you’re running against,’” the 18-year-old commissioner-elect characterized responses to his candidacy in an interview with Yellowhammer News.
Those attitudes motivated rather than discouraged Spivey.
“You have to take that motivation and go out and knock on doors,” he said.
In early 2017, Spivey was approached by some community businessmen who encouraged him to run for probate judge.
He figured he wasn’t ready for that, in part because he wasn’t old enough to qualify, but he did become interested in the prospect of running for office.
“I think county commissioner is a good place to start,” he said.
It’s a good place to start, especially because the commission has a lot of power over things that affect business, one of Spivey’s primary interests.
Spivey and his grandfather raise buffalo and sell the meat to vendors in Alabama and Florida. In the last two years, Spivey has undertaken the role of finding new wholesale vendors, among others.
His success, as well as his willingness to learn, gained him the confidence of his fellow businessmen.
“I went to the guys in my community that have won big in business and asked for their advice,” Spivey said. “I kept them in the loop of my business’s finances and what me and my grandad were doing. They got to see me do a lot of work, as far as progressing our company.”
Geneva County is a rural county sitting on the Alabama-Florida border that, according to Spivey, has three major needs: infrastructure improvement, economic development and accountability from county government.
“Infrastructure is by far my number one concern,” Spivey said. “It means so much for our future, for our safety. We’ve got to have safe roads.”
Good roads also foster more investment, which Spivey prioritizes.
“I think people now in our county, more than ever, understand the need for people who understand economic development and understand what it’s going to actually take to progress our county,” he said. “Economic development is all we have going for us, really. We’ve got to have jobs. We’ve got to have more people looking at our county saying, ‘We want to move to Geneva County.’
That’s important for the county’s entire population, young and old.
“I don’t want our high school students to have to leave Geneva County, Alabama when they get out at 3:00 and go to Houston County to have a job,” he said. “I want our students to be able to be employed here, to have a job here.”
Finally, Spivey said his constituents in Slocomb, Malvern, and Fadette deserve to know what he’s doing.
“I want people to know that I’m out working for them,” Spivey said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to stay out there with the people who put me here and to give them progress reports and show them how we’re putting their tax dollars to work.”
Spivey has all the confidence a politician needs, but he balances it with a good measure of humility because he knows his age.
“I believe it’s going to be important, for me as a young man, to have my ears open and to listen to people who have been involved in politics, and to take the advice of people who have been in my position,” Spivey said.
“I’ve got to be willing to listen and learn.”
Spivey has no general election challenger and will assume office on Nov. 13.
@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News