Election profiles: Alabama House District 20 candidates

Voters will head to the polls Nov. 6 to vote in midterm elections.

To help prepare voters for Election Day, WHNT News 19 sent the same questions to candidates in North Alabama races.

Republican Howard Sanderford is running for the House District 20 seat against Democrat Linda Meigs.

Howard Sanderford (R)

What in your background qualifies you to serve in the office you’re seeking?

I have worked my entire career with local leaders to serve the public, contribute to a thriving economy, and help working families succeed in their pursuit of the American Dream. I believe that success has prepared me to again serve our friends and neighbors in the Alabama State House of Representatives.

What are two areas you will focus on in representing your district?

My focus will remain on recruiting new businesses that will create quality, high-paying jobs for those looking for employment. I will also continue to make the case in Montgomery that Huntsville requires their fair share of road dollars that are spent statewide to repair our aging infrastructure.

What are challenges facing Alabama, as a whole, that you want to help address?

We still have families struggling to find jobs, afford health care, and pay inflated tax bills. I want to address these priorities in Montgomery and help increase the overall quality of life for our communities while adding to our resume as one of the best places in the nation to live.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? As I conduct my work with constituents, I think they would be surprised to learn that I served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

Why should voters trust you?

Throughout my time in office, I have shown that I put a premium on constituent service for those in my district. Through those person-to-person level interactions, I hope that I have demonstrated that I am worthy of the public trust at a time when ethics reform should continue to be at the top of our priorities in Montgomery.

Linda Meigs (D)

What in your background qualifies you to serve in the office you’re seeking?

I have served this community for over 30 years as an award-winning teacher and a leader, most of those years in this district. I dealt with all sorts of students and parents. I know how to get things done while dealing with people that view the world differently than me. I have also served as a leader: in my Baptist church, our city and our state. As a teacher and a leader, I always listen respectfully to everyone and work to find common ground so that we can accomplish our shared goals. This year, I have had thousands of discussions with Republicans, Independents, and Democrats, just as I have all of those types of people supporting and working for my campaign. With very few exceptions, we can agree on what needs to be done to raise our state out of the cellar in so many areas. I know that the people of this district are independent thinkers who will not be dictated to and that they can vote for someone like me, dedicated, high energy, who will fight for our district’s fair share in Montgomery. We need more women and teachers in the AL State House to advocate for our education system, our health infrastructure and the 52% of Alabamians who are female.

What are two areas you will focus on in representing your district?

Two of my areas of focus that will benefit District 20 will be improving education and removing the grocery tax. The underfunding of Alabama’s education system and the resulting price paid by our state’s children are shameful. While Huntsville may be much better than Alabama’s # 47th ranking, we all know that the state’s reputation has a serious effect on what businesses and people will move here. A strong educational system is the foundation of strong economy and the lack of it is choking most of Alabama. Our weak reputation affects what we have to give as incentives to get businesses here and then it affects those businesses who need to recruit people to work in Huntsville. We need to offer competitive salaries to keep great teachers teaching our children.

How can we do this without raising taxes? By having an Education Lottery! Thousands of District 20 neighbors agree that we need to establish a well-administered Education Lottery to add to the funds in our Education Trust Fund. Yet, my opponent voted to block this from coming before the voters in Alabama. I am for an Education Lottery, but I trust my neighbors to decide this, not to have it decided by just a few men behind closed doors.

A grocery tax is regressive, which means that it is disproportionately unfair to people on fixed incomes, to the elderly and to lower income folks, which often means our young people just starting out in life. Alabama is one of three states that hasn’t figured out how to reduce or eliminate sales tax on groceries. If 47 states can find a more fair way to raise the revenue on this necessity, our District 20 neighbors agree that Alabama ought to do likewise.

What are challenges facing Alabama, as a whole, that you want to help address?

Two major challenges to Alabama involve healthcare and the opioid crisis.

Twelve Alabama hospitals have closed, and doctors have left our state! Healthcare and drug costs go up and services go down while our legislators refuse billions of dollars in Federal aid. We are # 1 in having more opioid prescriptions written than we have people in the state! We need to hold those responsible criminally and civilly accountable. We also need to make sure that people who want help can get access to mental health and addiction treatments.

Both of these problems will be greatly addressed by expanding Medicaid, which would bring billions of dollars of Federal aid to Alabama, help control drug and healthcare costs, and make addiction and metal health

treatments more available, while creating 30,000 more jobs in the state. We must come together and focus on solving these very severe problems.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

When I talk about knocking on 6000 doors, most people think that I am exhausted, but I have truly enjoyed the thousands of conversations at the doors. I am particularly excited when I meet someone on the other side of the aisle who will spend time talking to me. And this happens every day! We have genuine, respectful conversations, and I come away feeling optimistic about our shared futures. I know that they love our nation and district and they know the same about me. I have truly enjoyed this part of campaigning the most, and I will hold at least 3 town halls per year when elected so that those conversations continue.

Why should voters trust you?

I know District 20, and I am known and respected here because I have lived, studied and taught here most of my life. A proud member of Grissom High’s 2nd graduating class, I returned to teach here for 25 years. Students and parents respected me because I motivated young people to perform at their highest potential. Parents trusted me to lead their children on trips outside the country. Beyond the classroom, members of my church and professional organizations elected me to lead them. I have people of all political stripes working on my campaign because they know me. They trust my ethics and independence. They know that I have high energy and a strong work ethic. They know that I will work to make District 20 and all of Alabama better. They support me because they know that we deserve better and that I will fight for a new day in Alabama.