News & Updates
Sunday, April 29, 2018
A number of gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidates spoke briefly Saturday on the Jasper courthouse square, hosted by Main Street Jasper.
The event, held in advance of the June 5 party primaries, attracted a low turnout among the general public, but candidates and supporters made for a small crowd around the square as statewide candidates took turns giving brief stump speeches. Most local candidates also set up booths but did not speak.
By the end of the event, two additional state races were represented unexpectedly, as Republican Alice Martin, running for attorney general, and Jasper attorney Donna Wesson Smalley, who is the state Democratic nominee for associate justice on the Alabama Supreme Court, Place 4, were invited to speak.
A letter from Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Bell Cobb (suebellcobb2018.com) was read, as she cancelled at the last minute due to her husband’s emergency heart surgery. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey (kayivey.com) did not schedule an appearance, although a booth in her name was set up.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (waltmaddox.com), a Democratic candidate for governor who had a Jasper appearance several weeks ago, complemented Jasper again for its downtown development.
“As a mayor, I can’t help but look around and be impressed with what I see,” he said, noting activity and business development downtown.
“The reason why I am running for governor is because as I look around the state, we still have too many challenges and too many crises. We are at or near the bottom in nearly everything that matters,” he said.
He said for small business owners, “we want to continue to build an Alabama where you become the strength and foundation of every community.”
Maddox said he would not forget his roots, noting his father’s family is from Fayette and his grandmother owned a small business in Temple Avenue next to Robbie’s, where he worked and played in there. He noted the struggles the family went through to keep the business going.
“That is never going to be far from my heart as your governor,” he said, saying Jasper, like Tuscaloosa, depends on the automotive business and small business investment.
Republican lieutenant governor candidate Will Ainsworth (ainsworthforalabama.com), who grew up in Boaz and has started several small businesses, noted he is a legislator from House District 27 from Guntersville, running four years ago. He said he is running for the position for the same reason he got into youth ministry, to make a difference while one can. He said the number one issue he hears about is the integrity and reputation of the state. He said he would honor God and his family and be a lieutenant governor voters could be proud of, by working hard, treating people right and serving with integrity, the last of which he said comes from his faith.
He proposed getting technology into classrooms so students can compete, noting rural students are particularly behind. “You can go into a classroom with 15 to 20 kids, and they are sharing a desktop in the county school systems that are 15 to 20 years old,” he said.
He said pre-K is important, as parents are not being read to by parents or being taught to tie their shoes. He proposed making voluntary (not mandatory) pre-K available for any student who needs it.
Ainsworth said the state’s biggest crisis is getting students job ready, as they are prepped for college but don’t know a skill. He also talked about helping existing business and making incentives available to them that large industries have.
He noted he is pro-life and has been endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Forestry Association. He has been endorsed by BamaCarry and has an A+ NRA rating.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (tommybattle.com), a Republican running for governor, said Jasper should be proud of its revitalization.
“You’re seeing your downtown come alive. That is one of the greatest things in the world,” he said. Battle later congratulated Jasper Mayor David O’Mary, adding, leaders “have done a great job here … This has been a great revitalization,” noting it will bring people back to Walker County and is making not just the community but the state better.
Saying he has led Huntsville for 10 years, Battle noted 24,000 jobs and $3 billion in investment have been added in the city. He said it comes because communities contribute workforce. He noted the success Jasper and Huntsville have had with the automotive industry, pointing out Russellville has added 1,000 jobs and Guntersville added 900 jobs.
“As one ship floats, everybody comes up. Everybody does better,” Battle said, noting he would like to take his methods to Montgomery to get jobs.
He noted his own son, as he started out, planned to go to “the big city” to get a job. When Huntsville started growing, his son came back to run a bank branch. “I think I’m coming home,” he told his father, which Battle said were special words for a parent.
“That’s what we want to do throughout the state,” in order to provide opportunities for young people to come back home and raise a family, Battle said. “That’s the reason I’m running for governor.”
State Sen. Rusty Glover of Semmes (rustyglover.com), a Republican who is the Senate majority whip and is running for lieutenant governor, is a former high school history teacher and Alabama House member. He just completed his third term as a senator. He explained the lieutenant governor presides over the Senate, where he said he has become familiar with Senate rules.
He said the lieutenant governor also makes appointments to boards and determines if a senator’s request for a state-paid trip is worthy of an expenditure (noting he has never taken a state-paid trip and adding that Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, is not taking “unnecessary” trips.
He said he is the first candidate for the office who has pledged to not take a state trooper off the road to drive him around, calling it a “senseless” act that has been a tradition for many years. He also pledged to work with the governor on issues such as education, economic development and workforce development, as he said people in those two positions have usually not gotten along.
Scott Dawson of Birmingham (scottdawson.com), who is running as a Republican for governor and the head of the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, repeated many themes from an address in Jasper a few weeks ago. He noted he was eventually persuaded to run after the ethics problems that led to Gov. Robert Bentley’s resignation.
“We need men and women of character that are serving us,” he said. “Image is a 30-second commercial. Integrity is what you do when no one is watching.”
He said he would use a biblical world view, recognizing right and wrong, as any governor males decisions on authority in his or her life. “We’re just tired of it being special interest groups whispering in their ear,” he said.
Dawson said the Bible says to treat everyone with respect. “You have to ask yourself, ‘When did civility die in our country?'” he said, calling to bring back the days when people used to agree to disagree on things and still move the state forward.
He noted he had built a multi-million dollar non-profit organization governed by a board of directors, and that he understands the economics of the business and works across racial and denominational lines, moving pastors to a goal. He then complained the Supermajority Republican Legislature “still can’t get anything done” and that the state needs a leader to cast a vision and bring unity.
Dawson said, “It’s time to get rid of Common Core and bring back common sense,” and came out for Second Amendment and constitutional carry, as well as pro-life and defunding Planned Parenthood.
State Sen. Bill Hightower of Mobile (billhightower.com), a Republican candidate for governor who grew up in Mobile and Birmingham, said he was a businessman who got a master’s in business administration. He worked for Fortune 500 companies and learned how to correct what is wrong in businesses, giving him a corporate strategic planning background.
“I think that is relevant for Montgomery, because I think Montgomery is broken. I don’t think it is working as it should,” he said.
When the plane crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2011, it came down 30 minutes from his house, which led his family to re-evaluate and resettle in Alabama to raise the family. “It was a salvation in many ways for my family,” he said.
Hightower said he won election with 64 percent of the vote to the Senate with $100,000 against a candidate who spent $1 million and backed by Montgomery insiders, such as House Speaker Mike Hubbard, he said.
“I’m not an insider. They didn’t want me,” he said.
He said he decided to run because the state has not had “a properly functioning state executive for some time now — a CEO to represent Alabama to the world.” He said he is consistently seen as one of the top three conservative Alabama state senators, leaving him as the only candidate with a conservative record that can see.
Hightower has voted for a flat tax to almost eliminate having to file a state income tax return, for unearmarking the state budget to spend for need such as state troopers. He said he has worked on behalf of pro-life and religious adoption issues.
He has been for “privatizing” the Alabama Department of Transportation to build needed roads and bridges and allow certification before high school graduation so a student can learn a trade or skill for a career, giving them a purpose so they will avoid drugs. He wants to make it easier for businesses to succeed.