Floyd Rodgers, Jr. was raking in as much as $47,000 a week selling drugs at one point in his life. Then he found Christ in prison and became a pastor. Now, he's running for the Alabama House of Representatives.

Rodgers, a self-professed Christian conservative, is seeking the Republican nomination for Alabama House District 16, which faces a special primary election later this year. 

For nine years, former State Rep. Kyle South served District 16 before he stepped down in June to become president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. District 16 includes all of Fayette County and parts of Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties.

Rodgers faces several opponents in the Republican primary: Fayette County Commissioner Brad Cox, attorney Bryan Brinyark, businessman Greg Fanin, musician Greg Lowery and attorney Mike Simpson. 

If he wins the Republican nomination, Rodgers will face a general election in January. Former Fayette County Commissioner John Underwood is running as a Democrat.

"It's really because of my faith," Rodgers said when asked why he chose to run as a Republican. "If you look at this nation and the direction it's going in, the things people are pushing our kids to get exposed to. It makes no sense at all."

"I've always been the elephant in the room," he continued. "Around here, stereotypically, when you see a black person, normally they're Democrats. So, I guess it's a foreign thing when I'm in either room. If I'm in a room with my peers and politics comes up, I'm the elephant in the room. Then when it comes to my Republican colleagues and conservative friends, I'm always the elephant in the room because everyone's always like, 'Really, you're a Republican?"

Rodgers told his story to 1819 News last year. 

Rodgers started dealing drugs when he moved away from his single mother in Fayette to live with family in Detroit's East Side and continued dealing when he returned to Fayette. He even lost his own brother to the drug-dealing lifestyle.  

But through several miracles and years in and out of prison, he truly discovered his faith while behind bars. He eventually accepted an offer to preach to fellow prisoners and witnessed several conversions. 

Now, Rodgers is a minister at Peaceful Rest Missionary Baptist Church. He also does travel preaching, visits prisons and visits the juvenile detention center in Tuscaloosa. 

Rodgers received a pardon from the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles in 2021 and said his former incarceration does not affect his eligibility for office at all.

"We had all that straightened out before we even qualified," Rodgers explained.

Nevertheless, he said his experiences in prison give him unique insight into some of the problems faced by the state of Alabama, particularly crime and prisons. 

"Prison and gun laws are not the answer," he explained. "The majority of the people that I've been incarcerated within the state of Alabama, these guys have mental issues. We need mental facilities to house these people, not prisons … We need to come together and form some type of legislation that would help us build mental facilities, not prisons."

Though Rodgers said he'd met Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and thinks he's a good guy, he criticized Woodfin and other Democrats in the state who point to guns as the reason behind the violent crime problem. 

"I don't think that guns are the issue," Rodgers said. "I think the people are the issue."

Rodgers also said he's concerned about what children are being taught in school.

"Another one of my concerns [is], of course, with the education, the things they're putting out in our children's textbooks, with the different genders, trying to push that stuff on them," Rodgers said. "... I don't have the answer, but I know it's an issue. I know a lot of educators in our community. The first thing that I would like to do when I get in office is get with the educators … I think just getting their point of view, sitting all of them down at the table, getting their point of view will actually show them, first of all, that I'm willing to listen to them and that I'm allowing them to see that the legislation I'm writing, that I'm proposing, comes from them and not just me."

At the end of the day, Rodgers said he wants to support his community, which he feels often gets overlooked for special interests.

"When I was young, our city was prosperous," he said. "But now, we have factories that are shutting down, retail stores that are shutting down and a lot of business has moved. I truly believe that a lot of these special interest groups, they're not concerned about rural areas. They get to the point where they start backing people, people who they feel like they can control. Whoever controls your money controls you." 

"A lot of people who we elect across the state and across the state and across the country, they work for the special interest groups and not the people," he continued. 

If elected, Rodgers plans to establish committees in District 16 for him to meet with regularly and hear concerns from different sectors of the community. These include a spiritual advisory board, educators board, farmers board, small business owners board, financial institutions board, civic leaders board, elders board and even a youth board.

Rodgers detailed his plan in a recent Facebook post announcing his run for office.

"I think that because of my race and because of my background, I could be a real asset to our Conservative Republican Party within the state of Alabama as well as our nation," Rodgers said. "Most people who look like me that are Democrats can't even tell you why they vote Democrat. Over the years, most of us have been misinformed and miseducated when it comes to politics."

The District 16 special primary election will occur on Tuesday, September 26. If the election goes into a runoff, the runoff primary election will be on Tuesday, October 24. 

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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