Alabama’s U.S. 5th Congressional District seat is up for grabs, and old and new faces are in the running.
Current representative Mo Brooks is running for United States Senate, and eight candidates – six Republicans and two Democrats - are seeking to replace him.
On the Republican side, the candidates include Andrew Blalock, John Roberts, Paul Sanford, Dale Strong, Casey Wardynski and Harrison Wright. Democrats Charlie Thompson and Kathy Warner-Stanton are running in the Democrat primary.
As the May 24th primary gets closer, 1819 News will be profiling candidates for the 5th Congressional seat.
Roberts, from Hartselle, has not run for political office, but is no stranger to government or capital politics.
“I grew up in Hartselle, over in Morgan County,” Roberts said. "I graduated from there in 2010 and went to Alabama for my undergrad and master's. During that time, I worked on capitol hill for Senator [Jeff] Sessions, Senator [Richard] Shelby, and Mayor [Tommy] Battle as well.
“I grew up in rural Morgan County, but I’ve built my professional career in Madison County. I am the only candidate in this race that has a home base in multiple counties in North Alabama. I understand the opportunities and challenges of rural parts, but I also understand business and how it works. I know the key players. I have experience working with them.”
“I want to be proactive."
After graduating from the University of Alabama, he worked at the Huntsville Madison County Builders Association, doing workforce development and governmental affairs. During his time at the Builders Association, he started a nonprofit organization called The North Alabama Homebuilding Academy (NAHA), which provides hands-on, short-term training to individuals seeking to enter the residential construction industry.
“I’m a big believer in trade education,” Roberts said. “Not everyone needs to pursue a four-year [college degree], and there’s a lot of opportunities in the trades.”
Roberts also worked closely with the industrial development sector in the Huntsville region in various capacities, such as assisting in the development of the Toyota plant in Huntsville.
“I really got a good 30,000-foot view of how to sell this region, what makes this region go and the opportunities, but also some of the weaknesses,” Roberts said.
Even though he is running for Brooks’ seat, Roberts has nothing but positive things to say about the outgoing congressman.
“Congressman Brooks has been a very strong conservative for North Alabama, the state as a whole, and the Republican party,” Roberts said. “He’s fought for ending illegal immigration, completing the wall, making sure people maintain their individual freedoms: those principles of Congressman Brooks are – I think – impeccable, and we want to continue a lot of those conservative principles.
“Where I would say I differ with Congressman Brooks is I want to be a little more proactive on getting some legislation passed. A lot of times, he was in that fight, which is so important, especially on the cultural side as we see the left continuously take a stronger grip on those.”
Since the 5th Congressional District is the most heavily funded in the state, Roberts said that he would want to position himself on appropriate committees to make sure that federal funds were appropriated properly in the district.
Education and school choice are also among the top priorities for Roberts. He believes that “real life” education that does not teach children what to think but how to think is vitally important.
“I start from the perspective that I don’t want the federal government dictating what the local or state has to do for education. I think if we could eliminate one department from the federal government, it would be the Department of Education.”
Should he win the seat, fighting social media censorship will be a priority for Roberts. He also gave a glowing endorsement for the recent Twitter acquisition by billionaire Elon Musk. He believes the editorial nature of social media has become a matter of significance in public discourse and thinks those that attempt to censor public speech should take the same legal responsibilities as editors of publications who are liable for their content.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Roberts said. "I think the antidote to bad speech is more speech. I want my opponents to have the right to say whatever they would like to say in the public forum, and I want my side to be able to say whatever they like. I think this country was founded on freedom of speech. Obviously, with our founders, that was our intention. But when you have these oligarch tech company monopolies that are constantly censoring just one side ... it’s funny. It never skews to the left on censorship; it’s always on our side. Once you do that, you take on those editorial powers. And if you want to act like an editor, then you need to adhere to those standards.”
The primary is May 24th.
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