Oct
19
2014

Being Sincere With The Voters

In two weeks, voters across our state will head to the polls and decide who will be leading Alabama for the next four years. As voters are evaluating the candidates, I think it is important that we carefully look at the candidates’ background, and how the candidates have presented themselves in their campaigns.

Last week, I questioned why my opponent, Doug Sherrod, didn’t bother to take the time to fill out the NRA’s questionnaire. In fact, I don’t think Doug Sherrod has filled out a single questionnaire during the whole campaign. I publicly questioned why a candidate would ask for our vote when he won’t tell us where he stands on the issues?

There was any number of ways Doug Sherrod could have responded to my question. He could have posted his policies online or published any questionnaires he has filled out. Instead, Doug decided to post a bizarre picture of himself sitting at his kitchen table surrounded by guns – many of which were lying on the table, pointed directly at himself!

Not only was this bizarre and unsafe, it wasn’t an answer. Doug wanted to look like he was pro-second amendment, so he posted that bizarre picture instead of telling us how he would vote on specific gun issues-or where he stands on any issues for that matter!

But refusing to answer questionnaires isn’t the first or only time Doug Sherrod has dodged political issues. Doug Sherrod wasn’t even registered to vote until 2004. Now, Doug Sherrod turned 18 in 1980. That means for 24 years, Doug Sherrod was old enough to vote but couldn’t be bothered to actually go do it. Now he wants the people of Etowah County to vote for him, and he won’t even tell us where he stands on the most important issues our state is facing.

This is just one more example of how Doug Sherrod likes to present himself one way and then act another way.

Voting is the most American thing a person can ever do. It is also one of the easiest and best ways we can support our country and honor our veterans. But for 24 years, Doug Sherrod couldn’t be bothered to go vote. Instead, Doug thinks all he has to do is post a picture on Facebook of himself wearing a tie that looks like an American Flag.

The truth is: Doug Sherrod didn’t register to vote until he started thinking about running for office. We can assume this because his first political campaign happened only a few years after he finally registered to vote.

My point is this: serving in political office at any level should be something you do out of a desire to serve the people you represent. And if you truly want to serve the people and are not in it to serve yourself, then you will tell the people where you stand. You will be passionate about voting and you won’t dodge the issues. Montgomery has enough self-serving politicians. We don’t need anymore.

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Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Oct
14
2014

House Minority Leader Craig Ford Responds to News of Dr. Paul Hubbert’s Death

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2014

“Dr. Paul Hubbert changed Alabama. From the dramatic improvements to public education, to the rise of AEA as a political force in Montgomery, Dr. Hubbert made a huge impact on our state. He fought for and won huge victories for educators, but he also fought for education and to make sure every child in Alabama had a chance to get a quality education. I was privileged to know him, and proud to call him my friend and mentor. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”

Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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Oct
13
2014

Where I Stand

As a state representative, there are a lot of causes I am proud to make a stand for. My two biggest priorities, and what I have devoted the majority of my time to, have been job creation and education.

But I have also been proud to take a stand for our second amendment rights, and proud to say that I have been endorsed by the NRA in every one of my campaigns.

This year, I was one of only four legislative candidates to receive an A+ rating from the NRA – the highest rating the NRA can give a candidate. Interestingly enough, three of the four candidates who received the A+ rating are Democrats: Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, Sen. Roger Bedford and myself.

Being a life-long gun owner and having served in the military, I have always believed strongly in both the second amendment and, most importantly, in promoting safe practices and classes in firearm safety.

But as important as this endorsement is to me, what’s most important of all is being honest with the voters about where I stand. Some people may disagree with my position on this issue, and I certainly appreciate their points of view and understand their concerns. But at least you know where I stand.

The same cannot be said of my opponent: Doug Sherrod.

The NRA sends their questionnaire to every political candidate in the state. We all had months to consider each question and to give honest answers. But my opponent couldn’t be bothered to even take the time to fill the questionnaire out. And that’s a big problem!

It’s one thing to take a different position on an issue. After all, that’s what elections are all about. But when you don’t take any position and don’t even bother to answer the questions, then you are disrespecting all the voters – not just those who are members of the NRA.

The people have a right to know where candidates stand. Sure, there are times when we might not know enough about an issue to give an informed opinion. And when that happens, the responsible thing to do is to say, “I don’t know. But I will learn more about it and get back with you.”

But it is NEVER ok for a candidate to refuse to answer the questions about where they stand on an issue.

I have a lot of supporters on both sides of the fence when it comes to firearms and the NRA. Most of those who disagree with me on firearms still support me because of my position on education and job creation. But whether or not you support me, at least you know where I stand – and not just on the second amendment!

I can respect anyone who puts themselves out there to run for office, even if I strongly disagree with them. I respect a person who takes a stand. What I can’t respect is someone who won’t be honest with the voters about where they stand or what they believe in.

The only way we can have an honest debate in politics – whether it’s on guns or any other issue – is if the candidates are honest about where they stand and why they believe what they believe.

I don’t like making a lot of campaign promises. Too many times, the politicians who promise the moon then spend their whole term in office trying to explain why they couldn’t deliver it. Instead, I will only make one promise: that I will always be honest about what I believe and where I stand, and that I will always respect, listen to and keep an open mind with those who might disagree with me. Can we say the same about some of these other candidates like Doug Sherrod?

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Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Oct
7
2014

Why We Need More Women In Leadership

It’s no secret that women are a little more than half of our population. In fact, out of the more than 2.7 million registered voters in Alabama, just over 56 percent are women.

And yet, women only hold a few elected offices in our state government. In the state legislature, only 14 percent of senators and representatives are women. In the state Senate, there is not a single committee chaired by a woman. In fact, there is not a single Republican senator who is a woman. There was one: Sen. Harri Anne Smith. But Sen. Smith was kicked out of the Republican Party because she refused to be told what to do by the Party leadership. Now she serves as an Independent.

Things aren’t much better in the Alabama House of Representatives, where women chair only four of our 31 committees.

And the absence of women in our leadership has shown.

For the past four years, our state leaders have led the nation in cuts to public education. At the same time, we have been the only state to see our unemployment rate rise. Our state leaders have refused to even consider expanding Medicaid, even though half of all the babies born in Alabama are born under care paid for by Medicaid. And let’s consider that a dozen rural hospitals have closed while many others are on the verge of closing all because our state leaders refuse to expand Medicaid.

Abandoning schools. Families who can’t pay the bills or find jobs that pay a livable wage. Women unable to afford prenatal care because state leaders won’t even give them the time of day. I think this is unacceptable, and I don’t know too many women, regardless of their political party, who would put up with it.

And that’s just one reason why we need more women in state leadership. But it certainly isn’t the only reason.

The pay gap is still very real in Alabama. In this state, women still make 76 cents for every dollar a man makes. Compared to the rest of the nation we rank 40th for pay equity among men and women. And the only reason why it is even that close is because men are making less today than they did before the 2010 elections. In 2012, women were making just 71 percent of what men make in Alabama.

But maybe the most important reason we need more women in our state government is because of the recent increase in violence towards women. It’s sad that it took a federal judge assaulting his wife and a professional football player beating his girlfriend unconscious to finally raise this issue to the forefront of our minds.

And that’s why I applaud candidates like Michael Gladden, who are leading the charge to prevent convicted rapists from using custody battles as a way to continue to torture women and children. Because violence against women should never be tolerated! And especially not by our state government!

I think it is very fitting that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, considering everything that has happened lately and the fact that we have a major statewide election in less than a month. Both of these issues have been put on the state government’s backburner for far too long.

Unfortunately this election year, there are not many women on the ballot. And even some of those who are have not supported the policies that matter most to the women I have met. But that is why it is so important that we elect men who do understand, and in four years recruit more women to run for office.

Because the truth is until women have a stronger voice in government, our government will continue to ignore them – just as it has young people, the elderly and many others. Whether it’s creating jobs and supporting schools, closing the pay gap or standing up to domestic violence and taking action to make women’s lives safer, we need leaders who understand and have the courage to take action. And that means we need more women in leadership.


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Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.