Barnette holds on to superintendent position, Larry Duke wins school board seat

Mar. 6—Shane Barnette has secured the first Cullman County Schools Superintendent victory in more than a decade.

Barnette walked away from the election with almost three-fourths of ballots (9,895) being cast in his favor. His challenger, long-time Holly Pond High School educator Morris Williams received 3,511 votes accounting for 26 percent of the total ballots.

With more than eight years of experience in the position under his belt, Barnette said he was excited to the continue the work his administration had already set in motion.

"I'm just super excited that the people of Cullman County came out and supported me today. This just shows that we are doing good things and we've got even better things planned ahead. We're going to continue working on that strategic plan that we've developed as a school system and I honestly believe that the next few years are going to be the best years ever in our district," Barnette said.

When reached by phone Wednesday, Williams said the largest contributing factor in his decision to run was to see the full strength of the Democratic process at work by giving voters a choice between multiple candidates. To that extent, he felt as though he accomplished his goal.

"The voters spoke and that's what it is all about," Williams said. "The voters made their choice and I have to go with what the voters say. That's what I was running for."

Barnette originally had no plans of running for the position when voters chose to revert back to electing the superintendent in 2022. Just after the race was called Tuesday night, he offered a similar take, only this time he said he will be taking the words of a friend and mentor to heart.

"Roy Drinkard just told me yesterday to 'Never say never.' So, I don't intend to run again, but I will lean on the Lord for guidance to know what His plan is for my life," Barnette said.

Whatever 2028 has in store for Barnette, he said he will be using the next four years to complete some goals of his own for the district in hopes of leaving it in good hands — whoever's they may be — for the next superintendent.

"I want to get some things completed so that I can turn it over to the next superintendent in good hands so they can take it to that next level from where we're at. Hopefully that's going to be somebody that has administrative experience that has led one of our schools and has done some district level work also so that they can take this gauntlet and run with it, taking it to the next level," Barnette said.

Williams said he has the same goal for the district and wished Barnette well for his next term.

"I hope everything goes forward and that we all work together to make this system the best in the state. I've said it 4,000 times, it was not about me and it's not really about Dr. Barnette, it's about doing what's best for the kids. That has to be our ultimate goal," Williams said.

With West Point School Board member Gene Sullins choosing to not seek reelection, Larry Duke won the only contested CCBOE School Board race over Steve Link with 73% of the vote.

Messages left with Duke on Wednesday were not returned by press time.