By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, June 14, 2017, Scott Dawson sat down with The Alabama Political Reporter (APR) to discuss his bid for the 2018 Republican Party nomination for Governor.
APR: Former Governor Bentley wanted to borrow $800 million to build four new mega prisons. Do you support Bentley’s prison plan?
Dawson: When was the last time we spent a large chunk of money on education, or on infrastructure? To me every crime must have a consequence, but ultimately prisons are bigger than buildings. It is about people. Reforming those prisoners so they don’t come back to prison should be discussed when we talk about prison reform. We need prisoner reform. Don’t be slack on crime, but moms are not praying for bigger prisons moms are praying that their sons to change.
APR: Alabama has 55 rural counties that either haven’t experienced any growth or are in a long term decline as working age Alabamians move away. What would you do, if anything, to reverse what appears to be a growing decline in rural Alabama communities?
Dawson: I am about to embark on a listening tour across Alabama and I want to hear what the people in those communities want to happen. We need to reach a common agreement to get something done. We need to breathe hope into our state. I would love for us to have the opportunity to get to the point that in the future grandparents don’t have to get on a plane to visit their grandkids. We have got to do something.
APR: The Accountability Act and the Charter Schools Bill have been very controversial. Where do you stand on expanding school choice in Alabama?
Dawson: We look at the situation we have got with some failing schools. Shouldn’t every student have the opportunity to get a decent education? I am not slamming teachers. I am not blaming them. We have to release them to start teaching.
APR: Since the State adopted the controversial Common Core aligned educational standards, the State’s math rankings have plummeted. Is it time to repeal the Alabama College and Career ready standards?
Dawson: We need to get the good teachers who are on the front lines in a room and let them write the standards. We should not follow other people’s standards and let people in California or New York tell our teachers how to teach.
APR: The State has the lowest property taxes in the entire country. Is it time to ask the people of Alabama to raise their property taxes in order to improve funding for State programs?
Dawson: Personally, I am opposed to taxes, but I have to look at every situation. I am not one of those guys who live in a fairy tale…We have got to do something about our roads.
APR: Spiraling Medicaid costs are eating up more and more of the State General Fund Budget. Is it time to pass more of the costs of the troubled Medicaid agency on to the beneficiaries through copays and deductibles?
Dawson: We are dealing with a complex situation. This is so complex that you are going to have to have a complex answer. You have to investigate it and find what will be best for Alabama.
APR: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) recently suggested that persons who believe that people who believe that Jesus Christ is the only path to Heaven are unfit for public office. How would you respond to people who feel that your career as a youth pastor should disqualify you for holding public office?
Dawson: As a minister for the last thirty years, my reputation and history prove that we work with people from all walks of life. Many of the people who founded this country were Christians. Would they not be allowed to serve in the government they formed? Everyone comes to office with a certain view. You can’t blame me for having a stance. Because I believe in religious liberties there is room for everyone in my country. Bernie however does not have room for me in his country.
APR: The Legislature combined all of the Law Enforcement functions into the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency claiming that there would be more efficiency. The move has not really generated cost savings or a decrease in supervisors and administrators. Is it time to disband ALEA and let the separate agencies operate independently?
Dawson: First, you have to see what the men and women want to see happen. Anything that we can do for our Law Enforcement agencies will be a top priority. What is going to be best for the safety of our Law Enforcement officers.
APR: The Business Council of Alabama is putting pressure on legislators to raise gas taxes for more road projects where do you stand?
Dawson: I personally am against taxes but when you have a new President. President Trump loves Alabama. He is rolling out a $trillion infrastructure plan. That probably requires a state match. If this comes down from DC and we don’t do something we won’t have the money to participate. The State recently approved widening two miles of I-65 from Pelham to Alabaster. They should be widening it all the way to Montgomery. The State says that there is a $billion for prisons but not a $billion for roads. That makes no sense when you have a President that loves our state and wants to improve our infrastructure.
APR: Some Legislators favor weakening the 2010 Ethics Law, that Mike Hubbard was convicted under. What your stance? Is it necessary reform or does it unfairly restrict Legislators’ ability to serve and do business at the same time?
Dawson: I have looked at the Ethics manual and it is awfully thick. I think we should constantly be reviewing and looking for improvement. We want to eliminate any corruption; but we don’t want it where good people can not serve. We inspect what we respect. Is there a way to improve it to make it more effective?
In closing, Dawson said, “We need a vision for Alabama that everybody can buy into. It takes more than just one man sitting in an office in Montgomery making plans. We need both Houses of the State Legislature to buy in. We need to get the mayors and the county commissioners involved. We need everybody in the State working together to make Alabama better so that kids that grow up in Alabama can stay in Alabama, and have successful lives here, so that we don’t have to get on a plane to go visit our grandkids.
Scott Dawson is running for Governor in the June 2018 Republican Primary and so are:
Public Service Commissioner President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R)
Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington (R)
Former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy George (R)
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battles are all also running in the GOP Primary.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) is exploring running for Governor as is Governor Kay Ivey (R).
There are other names rumored to be considering a 2018 gubernatorial run.
On the Democratic side:
Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb
Marriage equality activist, Chris Countryman
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has told media outlets that he is considering running for Governor for the Democratic Primary.