House District 20 race pits longtime incumbent Howard Sanderford against retired teacher Linda Meigs

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Alabama House 20 District race pits longtime Republican incumbent Howard Sanderford, against retired educator, Democrat Linda Meigs.

Sanderford, a retired IBM executive, has been in office since 1989.

Meigs said she welcomes the challenge.

“I want to take my message to the people, and work for bettering Alabama,” she said. “Because I know we’re at the basement in a lot of issues that are important to people, like health care and education and job growth.”

[Hear from the candidates about their qualifications and plans for office]

When asked about running for another term at age 83, Sanderford said he wants to continue to help law enforcement.

“Well, let me tell you why I considered running again," he said. "For one thing, I am chairman of the Medal of Honor for Law Enforcement and you talk about something that is really appreciated, the police officers who get so little recognition really appreciate that."

Sanderford said he also wants to work on improving mental health care in the state, which he said would help jail and prison overcrowding. He said North Alabama also needs more infrastructure funding.

Meigs said she’s knocked on 6,000 doors during her campaign and has been hearing a consistent message.

“Most of the voters I talk to want an education lottery,” she said. “To help fund improvements in our education system. We’re 47th in the country in education. But my opponent voted for voters not to get a say on that. I think it’s time, the voters I’ve talked to think it’s time, and I will work to accomplish that.”

Sanderford said he’s wary of a lottery as a funding source.

“What happens, you put a lottery in place, and it goes up very steadily for 18 months,” he said. “Then right after that it starts going another way. So it is not stable funding for state government at all.”

Sanderford pointed out Alabama’s Education Trust Fund budget is the largest ever.

Depending on the details, Sanderford said he’d consider a lottery bill, but he thinks it’s a bad idea.

Republicans are expected to hold control of the legislature, so what can a new Democrat member accomplish?

Meigs said she’s worked with plenty of people over the years with different ideas and has found ways to work with them successfully.

“I always listen to people respectfully, and work to find common ground, but stood my ground when I had to,” she said. “I like to tell people that I was a French teacher, so I know there’s more than one way to say something or look at something.”

Sanderford says voters should rely on his experience, just like his colleagues do.

“They’re getting a lot of experience and leadership,” he said. “We’re going to have about 30 new House members next year, and I was encouraged to think about running again, so that I could provide the leadership and seniority and all that’s needed to bring some of these new guys on board.”

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