By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
As a state representative, there are a lot of causes I am proud to make a stand for. My two biggest priorities, and what I have devoted the majority of my time to, have been job creation and education.
But I have also been proud to take a stand for our second amendment rights, and proud to say that I have been endorsed by the NRA in every one of my campaigns.
This year, I was one of only four legislative candidates to receive an A+ rating from the NRA – the highest rating the NRA can give a candidate. Interestingly enough, three of the four candidates who received the A+ rating are Democrats: Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, Sen. Roger Bedford and myself.
Being a life-long gun owner and having served in the military, I have always believed strongly in both the second amendment and, most importantly, in promoting safe practices and classes in firearm safety.
But as important as this endorsement is to me, what’s most important of all is being honest with the voters about where I stand. Some people may disagree with my position on this issue, and I certainly appreciate their points of view and understand their concerns. But at least you know where I stand.
The same cannot be said of my opponent: Doug Sherrod.
The NRA sends their questionnaire to every political candidate in the state. We all had months to consider each question and to give honest answers. But my opponent couldn’t be bothered to even take the time to fill the questionnaire out. And that’s a big problem!
It’s one thing to take a different position on an issue. After all, that’s what elections are all about. But when you don’t take any position and don’t even bother to answer the questions, then you are disrespecting all the voters – not just those who are members of the NRA.
The people have a right to know where candidates stand. Sure, there are times when we might not know enough about an issue to give an informed opinion. And when that happens, the responsible thing to do is to say, “I don’t know. But I will learn more about it and get back with you.”
But it is NEVER ok for a candidate to refuse to answer the questions about where they stand on an issue.
I have a lot of supporters on both sides of the fence when it comes to firearms and the NRA. Most of those who disagree with me on firearms still support me because of my position on education and job creation. But whether or not you support me, at least you know where I stand – and not just on the second amendment!
I can respect anyone who puts themselves out there to run for office, even if I strongly disagree with them. I respect a person who takes a stand. What I can’t respect is someone who won’t be honest with the voters about where they stand or what they believe in.
The only way we can have an honest debate in politics – whether it’s on guns or any other issue – is if the candidates are honest about where they stand and why they believe what they believe.
I don’t like making a lot of campaign promises. Too many times, the politicians who promise the moon then spend their whole term in office trying to explain why they couldn’t deliver it. Instead, I will only make one promise: that I will always be honest about what I believe and where I stand, and that I will always respect, listen to and keep an open mind with those who might disagree with me. Can we say the same about some of these other candidates like Doug Sherrod?
Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.