The future of Barham’s seat has been the subject of controversy on the six-member commission. Three of the four Democrats on the commission have pushed to leave the seat vacant until a June special election for the position. They contend that Henry, the metro area’s second-fastest growing county, is changing demographically and that placing a Republican in the seat, even if temporarily, gives the GOP an advantage in a community that increasingly favors Democrats.
But fellow Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, pushed through state legislation to replace Barham with a candidate suggested by the Henry Republican Party. After the commission could not get a majority vote on a candidate in March -- Harrell recused herself from casting a ballot -- Jones pushed through a second piece of legislation to give the chairwoman the power to appoint a replacement.