Election profiles: State Senate District 1 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 Tim Melson is running for the Senate District 1 seat against Democrat Caroline Self.

Tim Melson

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

I was born and raised here in North Alabama. My wife and I have raised our family here. I know the area and the needs of our communities. I was an anesthesiologist and now own a small business. My experience in healthcare, business, and raising a family have prepared me to understand and address the issues facing our state.

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

Economic development and education are my top two priorities. To me, these two issues are related to one another. We need good schools to prepare our students for the high-wage, high-demand jobs of the future. Having good schools and pro-growth economic policies will help us recruit new jobs and industry to our area.

That’s why I’m excited about the workforce development center we are hoping to bring to Lauderdale County. The center is supported by UNA, Northwest-Shoals Community College, and the Lauderdale County Board of Education. It’s really going to expand career technical training and dual enrollment programs for our students.

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

The budgets are always the main concern along with how we can be improving education. For many years, the legislature limped along from budget crisis to budget crisis, using short-term fixes to get from year to year. We are at the point now that we can begin implementing long-term solutions to final fix the structural challenges that have long plagued our state.

I’m also working to expand broadband internet access for rural areas. Earlier this year, I helped pass a $10 million grant to expand broadband to areas that don’t have it yet.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

With all the campaign rhetoric from my opponent, voters may be surprised to learn that I have the support of the Alabama Retired State Employees’ Association the state’s largest education organization.

I care about both our schools and our retirees. I’ve voted each year to fully fund RSA and I’ve worked to get more money into our local classrooms. Additionally, one of the main focuses of the workforce development center is to partner with the city and county school systems to provide opportunities for our students to get the hands-on training they need to pursue a skilled trade after school. The center is supported by both our local education and business communities.

Why should voters trust you?

I have worked hard for the citizens of District 1. My record over the last four years shows that I’m a conservative who works hard to find solutions. I try to approach every issue with an open mind and I’m willing to listen to all ideas. Things in Montgomery don’t move a fast I would like, but we are making progress.

When I first ran four years ago, I promised that I would work on economic development. We have several projects in the works, including making sure that all of District 1 can benefit from the Toyota Mazda plant. I also said that I would push for infrastructure improvements. I believe that helping to secure funding to finish Hwy 43 and the grant to expand rural broadband access are two examples of how I’ve helped do that.

I believe that I’m the candidate whose values best represent the people of Lauderdale, Limestone, and Madison counties.

Caroline Self

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

I am a native of North Alabama and my family has called this area home for generations. I know the people of North Alabama, and I have the experience to be an effective representative for the people of this District. I have experience in government. I have an undergraduate degree in government from Harvard, and I served on the White House staff. I also have experience in the corporate world, having worked for the last 15 years as a television producer. I have executive produced multi-million dollar television shows such as “The Real Housewives of New Jersey:” I know how to see projects through from idea to completion in a financially responsible way. I am also an attorney. Those skills are necessary in drafting legislation that is constitutional and effective.

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

I will work to expand Internet access in our rural areas. District 1 is being left behind in the digital economy because of our lack of high-speed reliable Internet. I earn my living in the digital economy as a television producer, and I know that the jobs of the future require high-speed Internet access throughout our region. I also want to focus on making sure that the people of this District have a voice in Montgomery again. Big corporations and powerful special-interests have run things in Montgomery for too long. I will be accessible and transparent with the people of District 1, and my primary goal in Montgomery will be to make the lives of the people of this District better.

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

Alabama is near the bottom in every measure of quality of life – healthcare, education, and per capita income. We have the highest infant mortality rate in the country and we have the most corrupt government in the country. We need new voices in the legislature to end the backroom good old boy reign of failure that has held this state back for too long. I want to address the real issues that effect the daily lives of the people of District 1.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

People would be surprised to learn that I was 1995 Alabama’s Junior Miss.

Why should voters trust you?

I have been transparent and accessible throughout this campaign, and I will continue to be transparent and accessible as a State Senator. I will not hide in a backroom. I believe the legislature should govern in daylight. My campaign is also funded by more than 700 donations from real people, not from large checks from big corporations and powerful special-interests, unlike many incumbent legislators including my opponent. I will work for you.