Democratic candidate for governor Arthur Kennedy spoke to 1819 News on Monday night about his vision for Alabama.

1819 News asked Kennedy why he was running for governor of the state.

“I just wanted to return the favor to Alabama,” Kennedy said. “Alabama needs change.”

1819 News asked Kennedy about a range of policy positions.

Medicaid expansion: “Yes, I am for Medicaid expansion,” Kennedy said. “Until we find something better, we need to expand Medicaid in this state.”

Lottery: “No, I am not in favor of the lottery,” Kennedy said. “With this economy, we have people who are struggling. It is poor people who play the lottery, and it would only put more people in need. There is another tax we can put on for new revenue.”

Expanding casino gambling: “I would not expand them,” Kennedy answered. “I want to be honest with the people. It may cost me some votes, but I don’t want people to say that I misled them after I am elected.”

Suspending or eliminating the fuel tax increase: “I would suspend it now, because of the high gas prices,” Kennedy said. “But we are going to need those revenues to build roads moving forward. For now, I would suspend it due to the economy might hit a recession.”

Last fall, Gov. Ivey took $400 million of American Rescue Plan Act dollars to build new mega prisons. Kennedy was asked if he supported this prison construction effort: “No, I am not in favor of building new prisons,” Kennedy said. “Not while we are lacking programs to help prisoners adjust to transition once they are out. I am in favor of more programs to help prisoners reenter society.”

Kennedy said that new parolees should spend, “At least five years attached to their parole officers.” Kennedy also favors teaching “More career skills.” He said, “I would not build new prisons, but I would implement a reconstruction plan,” to update the existing prisons.

The state legislature just passed an all-time record education budget, which surpassed last year’s all-time record education budget. Even with a flow of funds, Alabama students scored 47th in reading and last place in math.

“I would improve the school system by going year-round,” Kennedy said. “I would also pay the teachers more by offering incentive pay for teachers who hit certain benchmarks with their students. The teachers do a good job, but I would pay them more to go the extra mile for students.”

Kennedy expressed concerns about the Alabama Literacy Act, where students who don’t score at a third-grade level will be automatically held back a year and repeat third grade.

“He shouldn’t be kept back,” Kennedy said, but the student should receive extra assistance until he does read at grade level.

“Most students don’t learn the same. Some read better than others, some learn to do math faster than others.

“We should look at the common core,” Kennedy said expressing his concerns with the current Alabama College and Career Ready Standards under which Alabama’s schools have fallen into last place in the nation.

School prayer: “Yes, I am for prayers in the schools,” Kennedy said. “All children should be allowed to pray.”

Death penalty: “I am not for the death penalty,” Kennedy said.  “Life, yes, I do believe that he should serve a life sentence.”

Expanding broadband: Kennedy said that he is in favor of “working with the internet companies to expand broadband...It will help the economy and it will help the schools. I am here to support that.”

Kennedy said in a statement to 1819 News: “First and foremost, I am a Christian, an Army Veteran/retiree, and dedicated to serving. Additionally, I am a graduate of Troy University and employed in the Dothan City school system.  I have been told my personality is one of friendliness and kindness, and I lead with understanding. I am a person able to listen to the citizens. I look forward to serving the state of Alabama as Governor with the same dedication as I served in the United States Army. In order to serve Alabamians, a governor[.s] got to understand and promote the equality of life for each individual.   Meaning every law or bill that is passed has to represent all cultures of citizenship.  My campaign messages are to focus on equality of life, education, minimum wage, budgeting, and prison reform.  As Governor, I would like to build a relationship with the citizens of Alabama.”

Kennedy is running for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Yolanda Rochelle Flowers, Patricia Salter Jamieson, Kennedy, Chad “Chig” Martin, Malika Sanders Fortier and Doug “New Blue” Smith are all running in the Democratic primary.

Lindy Blanchard, Lew Burdette, Stacy George, Kay Ivey, Tim James, Donald Trent Jones, Dean Odle, Dave Thomas, and Dean Young are all running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Both primaries are on May 24.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face the winner of the Republican primary in the general election on Nov. 8.

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