By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, Alabama’s First Congressional District candidates held their second forum in a row, this time at St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile.
Democrats Lula Albert-Kaigler and Burton LeFlore both came as did independent James Hall. Republicans in attendance included Bradley Byrne, Daniel Dyas, Wells Griffith, Quin Hillyer, Jessica James, Sharon Powe and David “Thunder” Thornton.
Republicans Chad Fincher and Dean Young both were absent.
On the economy Sen. Bradley Byrne said that this is the longest slowest recovery we have ever had. Byrne blamed tax increases and the increased regulatory burden placed on employers for the unusually lethargic economic recovery following the Great Recession.
Daniel Dyas said to improve economic growth we should downsize government and do away with Obamacare. Dyas said that the government should allow businesses and employers to not be taxed on income above the current baseline for five years. Encouraging individuals and businesses to make more money in a narrow window of time.
Burton Leflore said that Democrat Alabama’s 1st Congressional District has a better chance of getting past the recession ahead of the rest of the country; because of the diversified economy in the district that will soon include Airbus.
David “Thunder” Thornton said that even though unemployment is still high employers like Austal are still having trouble finding qualified workers.
On the subject of Edward Snowden, who revealed that the NSA was spying on millions of Americans phone conversations and emails then fled to Hong Kong and ultimately to Russia, former state Sen. Bradley Byrne said that snowden is a traitor who should be brought back and put on trial.
Bradley Byrne said that despite Russia’s harboring of Snowden we should not boycott the Olympics. Byrne said that the only people who suffer from an Olympic boycott are the athletes.
Wells Griffith agreed that Snowden is a traitor and should trial and we did not need an Olympic boycott of the Russian games next year.
Lula Albert-Kaigler said that she was responsible for classified material when working for the Department of Defense and that Snowden was out of line by revealing classified material, but said that he did do some good things by making some of that information to the American public.
Jessica James said that if Russians won’t hand over Snowden we should use our military to go get and bring him back for trial.
No one supported an Olympic boycott.
David Thornton said he is a staunch advocate of everyone on welfare being drug tested to receive benefits.
Bradley Byrne said that drug testing is not asking too much of welfare recipients since they did not pay into the system the benefits they get are out of the goodness of our heart.
Daniel Dyas says that the welfare state is getting out of hand and would support drug testing.
Wells Griffith says that he supports drug testing and favors incentivizing work.
Quin Hillyer said that he supports drug testing of welfare recipients but it should not do it in a way that stigmatizes welfare recipients or violates their civil rights. Hillyer said that he favors doing is as part of a much broader package of welfare reform.
Burton Leflore said that drug testing is something that has got to be done, the problem is with administering it.
James Hall said that he was in the grocery line recently behind a guy with steaks, bud light, and name brand foods while he had store brands and hamburger and that guy pulled out an E.B.T. card. Hall said that he supports drug testing of welfare recipients.
Lula Albert-Kaigler said that she had to submit to random drug testing as part of her job with the D.o.D. And opposed making welfare recipients being drug tested.
Quin Hillyer said that to do a job you got to have the right knowledge and the right experience. Hillyer said that has been working in and shaping public policy for 34 years. Hillyer said that he has experience working across the aisle and understands the appropriations process.
Jessica James said that she has experience in economic development and public affairs and if sent to Washington she would stand up to the Obama administration and stand firm for the Constitution.
Burton Leflore said that it has been said by many people that they don’t think that a Democrat can win this seat. Leflore said that District One has been represented, “By Republicans since 1965…….the year I was born and I think we need a change.”
Sharon Powe said that it is time to send someone to Washington that will make sure that our veterans are taken care of, our children are taken care of, and our seniors are taken care and Sharon Powe is your candidate.
David Thronton says that he knows how to get things done from his years with Shell. Thornton said that he is good at team building and will rely on people with the highest skills to help solve problems.
Lula Albert-Kaigler said that if she is elected she will be a conduit for you. Kaigler said that she will do a good job and brings experience as an international traveler to the office.
Bradley Byrne said that we may have some criticism of our government, but that we still have the greatest country on earth.
Hall said that since he is running as an independent he needs 5934 signatures from Congressional District One voters to go straight to the general election ballot. Hall said that only two other folks up here on this stage are going to be there. Hall said that if you support one of the other candidates you should still sign for him to be on the ballot because it is likely that your candidate won’t be on that general election ballot. Hall told voters to vote for somebody who is going to be different.
On Tuesday, Democrats will get to vote on whether they want Burton Leflore or Lula Albert Kaigler. Republican voters will decide between Quin Hillyer, Dean Young, Bradley Byrne, Wells Griffith, Jessica James, Daniel Dyas, David Thornton, and Sharon Powe. Due to the numbers in the Republican primary most political observers expect that there will likely be a Republican runoff.
Congressional District One became vacant when Representative Jo Bonner retired to take a position with the University of Alabama System. The winner of the fall special election will have to run again in next year’s election.