By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, September 26, the Mark Lester for Congress Campaign announced that Lester has received the endorsement of equal pay for women activist, Lilly Ledbetter.
Lilly, whose unsuccessful lawsuit of Goodyear in Gadsden over allegations that she received less pay than her male peers for what she claims was equal work, helped lead to the passage of the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” in 2009, said that she was impressed with Lester’s enthusiastic support for women getting equal pay for equal work. Ledbetter said in a written statement, “There is no doubt where Mark Lester stands on this issue. He supports the notion that women should be paid the same as men for the same work, without any ‘ifs,’ ‘ands,’ or ‘buts.’”
Ledbetter was also sharply critical of Lester’s opponent, Gary Palmer, for answering an Eagle Forum PAC Questionnaire that he would vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act. Ledbetter said, “There is a clear choice for women in this race. Mark Lester supports the idea that women should get equal pay for equal work and his opponent opposes this idea. Gary Palmer’s position on equal pay for equal work devalues women, it is as simple as that.”
Lester expressed gratitude to Ledbetter for her endorsement. Lester said in a statement, “Lilly Ledbetter is one of the great heroes of our time. She stood up to powerful forces and pointed out the absurdity of gender discrimination in pay. She is an example to us all, and I take great pride that she would endorse my candidacy. There is simply no place in our great nation for gender-based discrimination in pay.”
Lilly Ledbetter was in Birmingham on Thursday evening at an event in support of a Jacksonville State University scholarship that is being established in her honor.
Mark Lester is a history professor at Birmingham Southern College. Dr. Lester is a lifelong Democrat, who was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. He and his family have lived in Homewood for the past 23 years. He attended Rhodes College, received a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. In 1991 Lester earned a Ph.D. in Modern British Economic History from the University of Oxford. He joined the faculty of Birmingham-Southern College in 1991 where he has received the “Outstanding Professor Award” given by students. He has also taught a course on First Amendment law as an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama School of Law.
After he finishing law school, Mark Lester was appointed Assistant United States Attorney where he prosecuted drug dealers and white collar criminals. He later formed a small law firm, specializing in commercial litigation. Lester co-founded an organization to provide legal assistance for the poor. For his efforts, he was named his county’s “Lawyer of the Year.”
The seat is currently held by Republican Representative Spencer Bachus from Vestavia who is retiring after 11 terms in the Congress. Congressman Bachus served the District in the Alabama State Senate before going to Congress by defeating Representative Ben Erdreich (D) in 1992.
The Republican nominee, Gary Palmer grew up the son of a small logger in Hackleburgh where his mom still lives. Palmer attended the University of Alabama where he got a bachelor’s of science degree in Operations management. Palmer went on to co-found the Alabama Policy Institute, where he was President for 24 years.
The General Election will be on Tuesday, November 4.