By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
A fourth-generation Cherokee County farmer and small business owner has announced a run for the Republican nomination to replace state Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, who won’t be seeking re-election this year.
Andrew Jones, from Centre, announced this week he would be seeking the seat in Senate District 10. Jones is the owner of Deep South Coffee Factory and is a shareholder in his family’s farm, Paul Jennings Farms.
Jones said he would use his experience running a small business and a farmer to help create an environment positive for business growth and investment. The candidate said he has seen first-hand that regulations can force families out of business. His own family decided to convert their dairy farm to a cattle operation years ago, he said.
“As a small business owner and farmer, I’ve seen how government regulation and misguided policies often break the back of our small businesses and family farmers,” Jones said. “Ladder-climbers and career politicians in Montgomery have lost track of what is important- developing our local economy, repairing our crumbling roads and bridges, and providing our children with a first-rate education.”
Jones serves on both the Cherokee County Executive Committee and the State Republican Executive Committee and is a member of the Alabama Farmers Federation Young Farmers group and Centre Point First Baptist Church, where he is the pianist.
Senate District 10 includes portions of Cherokee County, DeKalb County, Etowah County and St. Clair County. Williams, who was elected in 2010, announced in May that he would not seek a third term representing the district.
State Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, has also announced his candidacy for the seat.
Jones will run in the Republican primary in June for the seat.
“We have so much potential here, and we need a State Senator that can be trusted to represent our Northeast Alabama values while not shying away from tackling the difficult decisions our state faces,” he said. “This means keeping taxes low, supporting faith-based initiatives, and fighting for our families. Above all, I will work to move our area forward, make sure our needs are addressed, and ensure that we get our fair share of dollars from Montgomery.”
Jones holds a master’s degree in public policy from Virginia’s College of William and Mary.
He said too many politicians tout Montgomery experience but simply use their positions as another stepping stone to a higher office. In doing so, they kick the can down the road and fail to solve tough challenges, he said.
“Our legislators can’t just say ‘no’ all the time. They need to tell us what they are for,” Jones said. “A prime example of this was how a handful of legislators blocked critical infrastructure reform without offering any other solution.”
Infrastructure is a key tenant of Jones’ campaign. He said he would like to see many infrastructure projects completed, including the extension of I-759 into Gadsden and the completion of the 4-lane Highway 411 project between Etowah and Cherokee Counties.
“Unfortunately, we are in a bare-minimum maintenance situation with our infrastructure,” he said. “There will be no funding for new infrastructure unless we get legislation passed.”
In education, Jones said the state needs to expand access to pre-K.
“We need to get that done, even if it means rearranging some of our priorities,” Jones said. “Most families are not able to get their children into pre-K because very few spaces are available. Studies have shown that if you can get a child reading at the appropriate level by 3rd grade, then she is more likely to graduate high school.”
The primary election is set for June 5, 2018, while the general election is scheduled for Nov. 6.