By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, May 22, six of the seven candidates in Alabama House District 43 attended the HD:43 forum at the New Hope Cumberland Baptist Church. While the six Republicans agreed on most issues, the candidates expressed widely differing views on Common Core; the issue that has divided Republicans across the State of Alabama.
Conservatives Cheryl Ciamarra and Amie Beth Shaver both said that they were for jettisoning the unpopular Obama Administration endorsed standards developed by a committee of experts at the urging of the Governors and corporate interests.
The Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee overwhelmingly voted to reject Common Core at their 2012 Winter Meeting. At the urging of Billy Canary, who heads the powerful Business Council of Alabama, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston defied his own party and conservative groups across the state by refusing to allow a bill repealing Common Core that was sponsored by Sen. Scott Beason (R) to even be introduced on the floor of the Senate in the 2014 legislative session.
Gina McDonald said that parents she talks to are overwhelmingly opposed to Common Core, but that teachers support Common Core. McDonald said that the two sides, “Need to come together across the aisle.” McDonald said that she wants the children of Alabama to far exceed any children in America. “I don’t want to completely throw out Common Core…The public does not understand Common Core. To completely throw it out is off the table for me.”
McDonald is a divorce and bankruptcy attorney who is nationally known for her appearance on the reality show: “America’s Biggest Loser.”
Arnold Mooney said that education is on the minds of everyone in this state and that jobs are unfilled because H.S. graduates don’t have the necessary skills. “There are no simple solutions.”
Mooney said that the Common Core, “Standards don’t need to be thrown out.” Mooney objected to the state going back to 2007 standards and would oppose any repeal of the current standards.
Arnold Mooney grew up in Montgomery and touted his experience of 28 years working for a publicly traded company as well as his experience in the district working for 12 years as the campaign chair for incumbent Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R) from Indian Springs. Mooney is heavily supported by pro-Common Core business interests from across the state.
Cheryl Ciamarra disagree with Mooney and called Common Core a “boondoggle” that was promoted by billionaire Microsoft Founder Bill Gates whose company makes $3 for every $1 that his foundation donates to the effort. Ciammarra said that Common Core is, “Not reliable and is not helping us,” and that she is for pausing it, and repealing it and replacing it with something local. Ms. Ciamarra said, “I am willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that education is a priority in the state of Alabama.”
Cheryl Ciamarra is a speech pathologist in private practice, a mother of five, and is a longtime advocate on behalf of pro-Life issues. Ciamarra represents Alabama on the national Right to Life Committee.
Amie Beth Shaver said she was “Definitely” in favor of repealing and replacing Common Core and said we have the talent in this state to write our own standards. Shaver said that going, “Back to our 2010 standards that were absolutely improving public schools,” is preferable to continuing implementation of Common Core.
Amie Beth Shaver is a wife and mother of four, a former Miss Alabama, a former employee of the Alabama Policy Institute (API)’s new media division, and a widely recognized speaker on Pro-Life issues as well as extolling the benefits of abstinence and traditional family values.
Doug Clark said that there are problems with Common Core and that he favors putting implementation of the plan on pause.
Doug Clark is owns a successful Optometry practice in Pelham.
Former State Representative and Pelham Mayor Don Murphy was present at the forum but did not state a position on the Common Core standards in the forum.
A seventh candidate, John Bahackel, had another engagement so was not present at the forum which dealt with everything from roads, to Alabama’s prison crisis, to Common Core, to fighting the expansion of the federal government.
Shelby County Republican Party Chairman Freddy Ard moderated the forum which was hosted by the Shelby County Republican Party with the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, the ‘Shelby County Reporter’, and New Hope Cumberland Baptist Church.
PSC Place 1 Commissioner Jeremy Oden (R), Shelby County Sheriff candidate John Samniego (R), and Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead all attended the event.
Chairman Ard thanked all of the candidates who are running for the seat vacated by, “The retirement of a great legislator, Mary Sue McClurkin.” Ard said that the winner would have, “Very big shoes to fill.”
The Republican Primary is Tuesday, June 3.