Let me share just A FEW thoughts about the issues I care about. As I share these, feel free to email me, or post a comment directly to this page, and share YOUR issues with me. Together, we can set forth a powerful agenda for change across our state. By no means is this list complete. There are many other things I care about. At this point, they are very simply stated. If necessary, I will go deeper as time goes by. But, the list below gives you a gist of the issues I’m concerned about.
My Laundry List Of Issues
As I have said elsewhere on this site, President Theodore Roosevelt said “The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency.” This statement forms the core of what I believe about our governing bodies from the tiniest village, to the most cosmopolitan of communities — to The White House. In pursuit of a renewed sense of decency, I am driven to take whatever steps are necessary to see people in my State — my children, neighbors, friends, church sisters and brothers, positioned to live better lives. Other business owners like me, who run little “mom & pop” businesses, depend on their business to provide them a decent standard of living. The way business survives is when all citizens thrive. I believe we can do that right here in Alabama. There are wonderful people in Alabama. Some of the best people I know live right here in Randolph, Cleburne and Chambers Counties.
As I have shared with many of you who don't know me, the Funeral Home industry became a life-long passion of mine. It started with my late father, who was also passionate about this industry. When I was 14 years of age, my father opened Clark Funeral Home in Roanoke, and it became the center of my family's life. My family grew in our respect for this profession and for that reason both of my adult children continue to serve as funeral professionals as a part of this historic company. I have cultivated a deep abiding respect for all of those who are courageous enough to start and successfully maintain their own businesses. While state regulation is a necessary component of business ownership, I also believe that the State must not be "punitive' in its approach to this oversight, but rather should exercise its regulation of business from a corrective or remedial perspective. I do not like the idea of "The Business Police." Because small businesses enhance and enrich local economies, they should be regarded as allies with State overseers.
In a few words, our criminal justice system is broken -- on many levels -- and we need to focus on fixing it.
My years spent working with my late father, who headed up Randolph County's NAACP for over 40 years, and working with other grass-roots civil rights organizations, have prepared me well to address the civil rights concerns of our citizens. I am extremely sensitive to offenses in this area, and will work hard to see that any offenses in this area are immediately addressed. Because of my extensive background in this area, I understand at the deepest levels, how to quickly identify and recognize offenses, and work through the proper channels to address them.
In a few words, we've come a long way, but we have a LONG way to go.
The economies within the three counties that comprise District 37 are experiencing sustained economic activity; however, the average wage earned in Randolph County, falls at approximately 11% lower than for the whole state. Randolph Countians must realize wages that equal or exceed the State average. In spite of generally lower wages, Randolph County still boasts strong school systems; competitive business costs, and lowest cost of living. The Chambers County/Valley areas boast robust economic development brought on by the presence of KIA and it's many suppliers plants, who have created approximately 10,000 new jobs in that area. In October last year, Koch Foods announced their plans to build a $40.5 million feed mill in Randolph County, which will employ nearly 50 employees including 27 workers and 19 truck drivers. These are all positives as relates to the economies in the respective communities. The Unemployment rate in Cleburne County is about 5.3%; Randolph, 5.7%; and Chambers is impressively low at 3.7%. The infrastructure is present to facilitate excellent economic growth and development within each area of this district. We have to continue to campaign for more resources that make our communities conducive to new and innovative industries.
Education remains one of the most important and critical aspects of our lives. Our children cannot survive without it. It is disturbing to me that Alabama has 70 failing schools, most of which are attended by predominantly African American student populations. I would like to see every school be a school of excellence. I would also like to see more research conducted to learn why under-performing schools are not delivering as expected.
Geographically Alabama is a beautiful place. When you hear descriptions of Alabama, you hear such attributes as "hilly and mountainous lands; rolling grassland plains that slope gently west; plateaus; and the Tennessee River system and it's tributaries; uplands, and plateaus; mountains; and heavily wooded areas; underground caves, marshland swamps; and over 1350 miles of navigable rivers, more than any other continental U.S. State."
And certainly when driving across this state, there are breathtaking views that lend themselves to the belief that it's been this way forever; and will be this way forever. But, Alabama's breathtaking environment is just as vulnerable as everywhere else. Therefore, as both citizens and tenants, we must all remain aware of it's vulnerabilities, and ensure that we are careful to put in place safeguards that protect our beautiful homeland and ensure a safe, healthy homeland for our progeny. While I understand that a compromised environment may be part of the price we have to pay for continued industrialization, I also believe we have to strike a balance between that and preservation of the environment, so that it's safe for all of us to share this space.
When an ex-offender has served his or her time for crimes committed, and completed their sentence the path to the complete restoration of their voting rights should not be rough and rocky. I have first hand experience that this is the case, and it must change. We must stop "washing the faces" of Ex-Felons with their past crimes, and allow them to rebuild their lives, once released from our correctional institutions. I favor any legislation that would mandate reform in the process of restoration of rights for those who have served time in Alabama institutions. It is my position that any roadblocks to the complete restoration of rights, constitute a "legitimized" form of voter disenfrachisement and suppression. It must end.
I grew up in rural Roanoke, Alabama, where we ALWAYS had a local hospital; but as the years rolled by, medical expenses, as well as cost began to out-run the supply of funds. Our local hospital began to struggle, and eventually closed. One of the most devastating sights for me is to see that big empty hospital building sitting there now, a mere ghost of our past. I believe every citizen deserves excellent health care services, and that ways and means must be explored to make these services accessible for every citizen within every local community.
While this may be fiscally unrealistic, it is certainly on my "wish list."
While I am a democrat, I would like to make clear that my priority will always be people NOT party. I believe that in many instances, our legislators have put petty rivalries related to party, ahead of the wellfare of the people affected by these imiprudent decisions.
I witness people with excellent work ethics, working on jobs every day, but still struggling to make ends meet. And I believe every citizen who works ought to be able to engage in decent work that pays them a decent wage for their work.
There has never been a more critical time in our history than now, with respect to the way Women are regarded in the State of Alabama.
I read a report that appeared about 3 years ago, in Maria Shriver's publication "The Shriver Report." The report was entitled: "18 Top Issues Challenging Women Today."
The report set forth 18 issues challenging women nation-wide. However, they are equally relevant to Alabama where women are concerned.
The 18 areas are:
- Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness.
- The Continuing Gender Wage Gap.
- Violence Against Women.
- Continuing Efforts to Whittle Down Roe v. Wade and Women’s Reproductive Rights.
- Inadequate Maternal and Infant Health Care.
- The Absence of Laws Mandating Paid Sick and Parental Leave.
- Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Women.
- The Lack of Affordable and Competent Child Care.
- The Treatment of Women in Prison.
- Human Trafficking/Sex Slavery.
- The Severe Continued Under-Representation of Women in Political Life.
- Discrimination in Academia. The higher in terms of faculty rank, salary, prestige, and status—the fewer are the women.
- Under-Representation in the Justice System: As Prosecutors, Judges, and Police Officers.
- Inadequate Representation Among Those Who Run Our Top Corporations and Serve on Corporate Boards.
- Inadequate Representation and Unequal Pay for Actors, Writers, Directors, and Producers in the Entertainment Industry.
- Keeping Women in High-Tech Fields.
- Lack of Health Insurance.
- ERA and CEDAW.
Ironically, in 2015, a "Fact Sheet" entitled "Status Of Women In The States"
was published with almost identical conclusions as appeared in the Shriver Report.
I believe both these reports shed some unique light on how women are regarded in the State Of Alabama. As a woman, mother, and female entrepreneur, it is my position to advocate vigorously for the equalization of opportunity for women in the State of Alabama.
Our youth -- our most valuable human resources -- are the future of our communities. I do not believe we do enough to attract our youth and entice them to remain in the area.