One of the first questions people ask is whether I am a Republican or Democrat. In many cases, even after I answer the latter, the next question is “are you running as one?” Unfortunately, in our state, party affiliation is irrelevant to our status; we are all together at the bottom. Alabama is consistently ranked among the 5 lowest states in nearly every meaningful quality-of-life metric. We need strong, passionate leaders who are committed to rolling up their sleeves, showing some courage, and transparently working to move our state forward. I believe the folks of District 46 value authenticity and integrity and will elect the candidate who best represents their ideas for our great state, even if it’s a Democrat.
The scandals and corruption that plague our state politics are simply unacceptable. Citizens of this state deserve leaders who represent them ethically and compassionately. They also deserve representatives who do the work…reading the bills before voting, reviewing research and data, asking thoughtful questions, prioritizing real problems, and compromising with colleagues across the aisle to make meaningful progress on important issues. I have a strong desire to serve my neighbors and I want to be held accountable. Voters should expect this type of leadership and should say so loudly at the polls.
Current leadership has driven our state to the financial brink. For years, the short-term solution to our budget woes has been to “rob Peter to pay Paul.” State legislators have repeatedly taken money from the Education and Retirement fund coffers to prop up our failing budget. In 2016, they even took BP Oil Spill money intended to restore businesses and roads on Alabama’s coast and used it to fund the state’s general budget for ONE MORE YEAR. As a business person, I know this is unsustainable. Our infrastructure, forensic services, state parks, state trooper budgets and more have been cut to the bone. I believe we must take a hard look at our revenue streams and come up with smart, creative solutions to make Alabama financially stable again.
We need an educated work force to attract new industry; I am an ardent proponent of a strong, well-funded public school system that provides high-quality education to all Alabama students from Pre-K to at least 2 years of post-secondary studies. We must aggressively grow the infrastructure and funding for high quality pre-k in Alabama. According to the AL School Readiness Alliance, for every $1 we invest in high-quality pre-k, we receive $7 in cost savings from a host of public assistance expenditures – healthcare, criminal justice and other services. Whatever business you’re in, that’s a sound dividend.
You’d be hard pressed to find a friend or neighbor that doesn’t enjoy fishing, boating, swimming or otherwise exploring the diverse rivers, lakes and bays we have in Alabama. You certainly wouldn’t have trouble finding folks who like clean drinking water. Today, we are ill-informed of sewage spills, inundated with reports of e-coli and other bacteria, warnings about swimming and eating the fish we catch; I am an enthusiastic supporter of common sense legislation to study and protect the quality and quantity of water in our state’s 132,000-mile system of rivers and streams.
Healthcare is a hot topic for everyone, but no matter where you stand on the issue, not taking advantage of the Medicaid expansion option was and remains an irresponsible decision for our state. Not only do our citizens in the coverage gap need the insurance, but our economy needs the potential 30,000 jobs and millions in related revenue that would result. We need to be innovative in determining ways to cover our 10% matching investment, but as long as the expansion option is available, we should take it.
Criminal Justice Reform
Everyone wants justice for the victims of violent crime. Everyone wants violent offenders off the streets. But, our state’s criminal justice system requires immediate attention. We need courageous legislators to take a detailed look at strategies to reduce the number of people we incarcerate, provide safer facilities and significantly improve access to and quality of mental healthcare and education programs. Studies in some states show as much as 400% return on investment for education in prison—these are hard cost savings on repeat incarceration and use of other social services. Most individuals WILL get out of prison. What kind of person do we want to release?