Through my family, my work in the mill, and my friendships at Fairfield High School, I was drawn to studying government at Alabama and later law at Cumberland Law School. Public Service and government seemed to be the best way to expand justice from the personal-level I had learned at Fairfield.
I also found a love for politics and organizing. Through volunteering – campus affairs at Alabama, a statewide campaign to modernize Alabama’s court system, and Young Democrats – the power of one, determined young person became clear to me.
Learning the law and seeing the courts and justice fueled my desire to be part of the solution. During my second year in law school, I cut a few classes to watch a young Bill Baxley, Alabama’s Attorney General, prosecute the first 16th Street Baptist Church bombing trial. That was 1977 – the first time I saw real, inspiring change in the cards for Alabama.
After law school, I had the honor of serving as staff counsel to the U.S Senate Judiciary Committee – for Senator Howell Heflin. This gracious gentleman of impeccable character remains my role model today. Working for him in Washington – at the United States Senate was inspiring. I was still the kid from Fairfield, but it planted a hope that I might one day return here to serve my state.
In 1980, I became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Birmingham. For several years, as a prosecutor and then private defense attorney, I developed a deeper understanding of our criminal justice system. My own courtroom experience is from both sides. I have seen the strengths and weaknesses of our system of justice – I know it needs to worker harder for everyone to be equal.
I served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama beginning in 1997. I was nominated by a Democratic President and confirmed by a majority-Republican Senate. It was an honor to serve my country and shaped the next 20 plus years of my life.
Shortly after taking office, the Birmingham women’s clinic was bombed by Eric Robert Rudolph. I was having breakfast just blocks away and ran to the scene. The image of a bombed building and body of a police officer will remain with me for the rest of my life.
We were also reopening a three-decade-old case that had been the most tarnishing crime in Alabama in the 20th century – the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. Four little girls had been killed by the Klan using dynamite on Sunday morning and three of the four killers had escaped justice for over 35 years. Thanks to an incredibly dedicated team of prosecutors, investigators and staff we convicted two former Klansmen for the murder of those four innocent children. Justice may have been delayed, but it was certainly not denied.
Now, looking to a December 12th special election for U.S. Senate, I want to bring the hope of justice and fairness back to all Alabamians. I want to be a voice for reason in the turmoil of modern Washington. Too many Alabamians don’t believe that our government is serving them. The issues that affect our daily lives – healthcare, wages, true equality for all – have become bargaining chips between parties. These common causes must not be obscured by the fog of political rhetoric. My heart has always impelled me towards public service. Whether you vote for me or not – I care about justice and progress for you and your family. I’m running for the Senate to return dignity to the citizens of Alabama.