Candidates speak to Alabama public retirees

Alabama’s public retirees got a chance Wednesday to hear from candidates from the Public Service Commission all the way up to governor.

Eight candidates made the stop in Prattville Wednesday to share their platforms and ask for the retirees’ votes.

Will Ainsworth, the incumbent Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, highlighted the good that has come during his time in office.

“Looking at the Census, people thought we could potentially lose a Congressional seat, or even two,” Ainsworth said. “But we actually grew 5 percent during the pandemic; we’re one of the fastest growing states in the country. Huntsville was just recently listed the No. 1 city in the US for people to move to.”

Ainsworth touted the historic revenue in the Education Trust Fund as well as growth in the typically stagnant general fund. He also pledged to help retirees get legislation across that brought back cost of living adjustments and not just one-time bonuses.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Yolanda Flowers said there’s a lot that still needs to improve in Alabama though.

“Education is low, healthcare is low, our economy is low; criminal justice is not fair,” Flowers said. “There’s a lot of things.”

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Flowers said it all starts with preparing children at the education level and emphasized the need for better healthcare access. She also signaled intent to raise the minimum wage in Alabama if elected.

“The unemployment rate has gotten better, but there are still 100,000 people without employment,” Flowers said. “They don’t want to work for $7.25 an hour. It’s time we bring up our standards.”

Will Boyd, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, also emphasized healthcare access.

“Alabama still ranks worst in healthcare compared to other states,” Boyd said. “Alabamians are paying three times more on average for healthcare premiums. Alabama is also one of the places with lowest access to hospitals. It’s sad, I’ve traveled all over the state, going into counties with no hospitals. In Pickens County if someone gets hurt, they have to drive 51 minutes to get healthcare.”

Boyd also noted that many retirees in Alabama don’t make much more than the poverty line.

Both the Republican and Democrat nominees for secretary of state were on hand to make their pitches.

Republican nominee Wes Allen told the retirees his experience sets him apart for the job.

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“We saw what happened around the country in 2020 in other states with chaos and confusion with voting,” Allen said. “We cannot afford to allow that to happen in Alabama. As a former probate judge, I know what it’s like to serve alongside the sheriff and circuit clerk, the board of registrars.”

Allen also emphasized keeping voting machines offline and maintaining paper ballots.

Democratic nominee Pamela Lafitte called for early voting, curbside voting for the disabled and automatic restoration of voting rights to individuals released from prison.

“When you cast your vote for Pamela Lafitte, I will do all I can to maintain election integrity,” Lafitte said.

Wendell Major, Democratic nominee for attorney general, said it’s time for Alabama’s “top cop” to be a cop.

“We have a rising violent crime problem in our community and we need a comprehensive statewide plan to address it,” Major said.

Major pledged to enforce the law without fear or favor, and to conserve resources to target violent crimes.

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Rick Pate, incumbent Republican candidate for commissioner of agriculture, asked retirees to reelect him to continue overseeing his program of getting locally grown foods into Alabama schools.

Pate told retirees about how he realized Alabama schools were a major buyer of food, but weren’t buying locally produced fruits and vegetables and set out to make that change. Through a federal partnership, Pate said he expects to put $3 million worth of locally grown food in Alabama schools in the upcoming year.

Jeremy Oden, Republican incumbent for the Public Service Commission, explained the commission’s role in the state and an energy sector in turmoil.

“There’s a major emphasis in the energy world right now, all over the place,” Oden said. “Every day we get a different report. We have to look at that and see where we’re going to be; it’s a difficult time to get a hold of what’s happening.”

The general election is Nov. 8.

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