By SHERRY DIGMON
Several Republicans made a last stop in this area Monday evening, May 16, at the Escambia County Republican Party meeting in Brewton. About 60 people attended.
Among the speakers were Stephen Sexton and incumbent Greg Albritton, both candidates for Alabama Senate District 22, and Lindy Blanchard and Lew Burdette, both challenging incumbent Kay Ivey for the governor’s seat.
Each candidate was given eight minutes to speak. Below are some the comments made by each candidate.
“I’m here to give you assurance that if I’m elected, you won’t be neglected,” Sexton told the crowd.
Sexton said his connection with Escambia County goes back more than 40 years. The first church he pastored was in Atmore in 1985.
Sexton said he talked with Greg Albritton eight years ago and told him he was going to give him two terms because he believes in term limits.
Referring to Alabama’s constant poor performance in education rankings in the country, Sexton said the state just passed the largest education budget in history. Money and teachers are not the problem, he said. With the announcement of a new industry coming into Baldwin County, Sexton questioned where the 1,000 employees will come from, adding that kids need to graduate “life ready,” have a profession and not depend on “Big Brother.”
“Stephen is right,” Albritton said. “We have the biggest budget in the state’s history.”
But look at what Alabama and Escambia County have done, he added. A number of years ago, Escambia County didn’t have the money to make payroll. Roads were not resurfaced in years – one not since 1929.
“We took that to task,” he said. By the legislature’s taking necessary steps, asphalt is being laid in Escambia County and meeting payroll is no longer an issue.
In 2018, Albritton got a call at home from the Department of Corrections informing him that Holman Prison would be closed. Went from 4,000 inmates to 200. Also closed Draper and Mt. Meigs.
To be announced soon: 4,000-inmate prison in Atmore on land the state already owns, by using facilities already there. And, he added the money is there for the facility.
“Alabama is strong,” Albritton said.
“The only time I left this state was to serve with Donald and Melania Trump,” Blanchard said, speaking of her appointment as ambassador to Slovenia.
She described herself as an “atypical candidate.” She and her husband John have a successful real estate business, and she does not consider herself a politician.
In early 2000s, the Blanchards’ oldest son was attending the University of South Alabama and got in with the wrong crowd, leading to drug addiction. In 2003, he succumbed to his addiction.
“God pressed on my heart to help children in the state,” she said.
She works with non-profits in 14 countries helping adults and children. In that work, she forged relationships on Capitol Hill which led to her position in the Trump administration.
“I have issues with what’s going on in our state,” Blanchard said. “ … Follow the money. God provided [us] the money and told me to help this state. I’m funding my own race.”
Burdette grew up in Roanoke, Alabama and likened Brewton to his hometown and growing up with small town values.
He worked as Chief Operating Officer with Books-a-Million and helped the team grow from 250 to 3,000.
Burdette said a reporter told him recently he seemed to be the only candidate talking about the issues.
He touched on rising mental health issues in the state.
Alabama is ranked 47th, 48th, or 50th on national rankings, and he vowed to get the state out of the bottom.
“Follow the money,” Burdette said. “Alabama is the fourth most politically corrupt state in America. Why” Because we are one of five states that allow unlimited campaign contributions. Millions [of dollars] are flowing into Montgomery. I will work for transparency …
“I am the only candidate with momentum in this race.”
Other candidates on the ballot were given a chance to speak briefly – Scottie Stewart, Billy Blair, Larry White, all three running for County Commission, District 3; Cindy Jackson, Board of Education, District 4; Heath Jackson, Escambia County sheriff; and representatives for Governor Kay Ivey, and Mo Brooks, candidate for US Senator.