(WHNT) – The Alabama House District 25 race is for the open seat being vacated by retiring Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon. News 19 asked the Republican candidates for Alabama House District 25 about themselves and their views on issues important to Alabamians.
The Republicans on the ballot are William “Buck” Clemons and Phillip Rigsby.
Here are the News 19 questions and the candidate’s full answers:
Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background. How has it shaped you to serve in the office you’re seeking?
WILLIAM “BUCK” CLEMONS: I grew up on the rough streets of Cleveland, Ohio, joined the Army and became a gunpilot.
After a twenty-year career, I retired and started my own Defense Industry consulting business where I learned how to run a small business and bring in work. The Army made me the man I am today and taught me leadership. Business taught me how to build and organization and the difference between the theory and practice of business.
Both taught me the importance of measuring results. These are skills that will be of great use in the legislature, especially when it comes to measuring the results of legislation – nothing should be passed and forgotten about. Everything should be measured.
PHILIP RIGSBY: I am a native to Madison County. I was born and raised here, was married here, and have raised a family here. I understand North Alabama and what we hold as dear and important. I graduate from the Harrison College of Pharmacy with my doctorate degree in pharmacy. I currently own two pharmacies in Huntsville, so I understand the importance of keeping Alabama open and working. I also know the importance of keeping government regulation and taxes low to keep businesses successful.
When not at the pharmacies, my life has been spent serving others. I have been a PTA President, an AYSO referee, president of the Madison County Pharmacy Association, and president of the Auburn Pharmacy Alumni Association. I am currently a member of the Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department where I am a certified firefighter, licensed EMT, and serve as department Chaplain. I am a founding member of Providence Baptist Church where I lead worship music and teach youth Sunday School.
Why is this important to know? This shows the driving reason behind running for political office. It is not about my personal agenda or desires. A elected public official should be a servant at heart. If you want to know what type of public servant I will be, look at how I selflessly serve others in my life. A true servant who will fight for faith, family and freedom is what I hope to be as the next Representative for District 25.
Question #2: What do you see as key challenges facing your district and the state and what do you propose to do about them?
CLEMONS: The economy is being destroyed by the reckless spending and prioritization of the Federal government and we need to protect Alabama from the repercussions as much as possible. This will be very difficult. I plan to abolish the State income tax and replace it with the Alabama Fair Tax which is a retail-based consumption tax. This will put us on equal footing against, Texas, Tennessee, and Florida for relocating skilled labor and provide Alabama business with an advantage in competition because it eliminates the business-to-business sales tax.
RIGSBY: Infrastructure and roads are a major issue in District 25. The announcement from Governor Ivy to extend 72 from Providence Main to Nance is a great start, but with the booming population in Huntsville, Madison, Madison County and Limestone County, we need to continue to evaluate and address roads and traffic.
Workforce development and industry recruitment continues to be an issue in Alabama. With Research Park being included in District 25, I will fight in Montgomery and in Washington to bring defense and space work to North Alabama. We also need to make sure we have the skilled labor needed to meet the demands of these jobs. Working with our high schools and colleges to have programs to encourage training and job placement is crucial to the success of Alabama business and industry.
Question #3: What are voters telling you they are concerned about? Can you help?
CLEMONS: This election is very quickly turning into the “Education” election. It is the number one thing I hear about on the campaign trail. When your State is ranked 52 out of 50, you have a problem. We need to acknowledge this problem, measure it, and provide a remedy, test the remedy, implement the solution, and measure the results. One partial remedy is passing the “Parent’s Choice Act” so the education dollars can follow the child. Another partial solution is getting rid of Common Core. Although it was eliminated in past legislation – the standards were copied over under a new title and it is still being used practically. In addition to that the Legislature passed the Numeracy Act, $92M, for teachers to learn how to teach it. Elementary math should not require teachers to re-learn math. I am running on de-politicizing the university system by eliminating the social justice majors and the professors responsible for teaching those worthless classes. It is a very popular idea because people are tired of sending their kids off to school only to have them come home wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt. Critical Race Theory (CRT) can be eliminated from the public education system if it is never taught to the teachers-in-training.
RIGSBY: Honestly, most voters are most concerned with many issues on the national level including issues like inflation and border control.
State issues include making sure that Alabama stays open for business in the face of additional pandemics and the legislature continues to work to improve education. I will fight to make sure that we stay open for business and that the “mom and pop” stores have a fighting chance in this economy. I will look at all options needed to make our students and teachers a priority to get Alabama out of the bottom of education statistics and skyrocket us to the top. We must eliminate common core and focus on early reading and mathematics proficiency.
Question #4: What is an accomplishment you’re especially proud of?
CLEMONS: Graduating Flight school as an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter pilot is probably the hardest thing I ever accomplished and something that I am very proud of. Finishing my master’s degree after 19 years of night school is probably the second thing I am most proud of. Of course, all that pales in comparison to the kids I have raised. They are my legacy and what I am most proud of.
RIGSBY: My sister was killed in a car accident in December 2002. Many days after the accident, I learned that the local volunteer department was called to her accident to render emergency services.
I was amazed that men and women would leave their warm beds on a cold night to VOLUNTEER their time and expertise to serve my sister. It impressed on me that if they could do it for my family, I could do it for someone’s family too. I later joined the Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department and in 2006, I earned my EMT license. I have been able to serve others in my community and surrounding area in their most desperate times of need. I have been blessed to be a part of 3 successful CPR saves, fought countless fires, worked many wrecks, and as Chaplain, just been their as a comforting presence for a family that has just lost a loved one.
It has been a great pleasure in my life to serve in position that is 100% volunteer and often thankless. While I have the upmost respect for all first responders, the men and women of MVFR have a special place in my life.
Question #5: Leaving out elected officials – past and present – tell us about someone you admire and why.
CLEMONS: MG Joshua Chamberlain is a personal hero of mine. You may remember him from the movie “Gettysburg” where he was played by the actor Jeff Daniels. The movie does a very good job of portraying him those fateful days where he was ultimately awarded the Medal of Honor. What is not so well known is that he was a scholar, taught at the University of Maine, a soldier in the Union Army, and a Statesman that was eventually elected the Governor of Maine.
To avoid breaking the rule stated in the question – I will stick to why I admire him prior to becoming an elected official. As a university professor he was a learned man who was against slavery and met Harriet Beecher Stowe. He volunteered to join the Army and became the exemplar of leadership. So much so that the US Army’s basic leadership book tells his story of Gettysburg as the first illustration of battlefield leadership. Later, I learned that he was wounded several times, about 6, and had two horses shot out from under him. Most of all, he taught the lesson of leading by example. At the signing of the General Lee’s surrender, he ordered his men to salute the enemy army as they marched away in defeat, seeking to show respect to the defeated foe, and helped start the process of healing the Nation.
It showed his understanding of human nature. After the Civil War he chose to serve again as the Governor of Maine for four terms. He was genuinely a good person and provides an example for us all.
RIGSBY: It is not inherent in today’s world, where more people are consumed with self, to serve others.
I am so blessed to have had two people model this in my life. My parents, Paul and Pam Rigsby, have always done whatever they could to help other people. I remember going to a house with my father as a young boy to help him work on a patio fan for a widowed church member. After completing the work, the widowed lady offered to pay my dad, but her refused.
As a boy, this just seemed foreign to me. Why would he not take the money for the work he did? I have learned from them in my life, with too numerous examples to mention, that there is no better way to honor God and show his love to people (as we are commanded to do in scripture) than to serve them. The reward is not money or accolades, but a life filled with joy and contentment. I am so proud to be their son and to know that they are just plain “good people.”
Question #6: What distinguishes you from your opponents?
CLEMONS: I am running on a platform of ideas – things that need to be done. I have four issues that I am talking about and several more that I hope to introduce when they are ready for prime time. My four issues are; Eliminate the State Income Tax, Road Reform so our roads last longer, De-Politicize Universities, and pass the Parent’s Choice Act.
RIGSBY: I am from North Alabama, except for my time at Auburn, I have been here my whole life. So, if the voters want a representative that truly knows North Alabama, I would be the choice. I also am convinced that I would be a representative with no personal agenda. I do not care about accolades or getting my name in the paper. It is my true desire to serve District 25 with dignity and integrity. I will listen and fight for family, faith, and freedom.