State Legislature Dist. 13: Price, Sparks, Sprayberry

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Randy Price eyes District 13 State Senate seat

By Denise DuBois 

Randy Price is one of three Republican candidates seeking the State Legislature Senate District 13 seat. Price owns RLP Homes LLC and Royal Crossing Transport Inc. and has more than 35 years of experience in developing and growing small businesses. Price and his family own and operate C&H Farms in Opelika. Now, he is eyeing the Statehouse.

“I think it’s important that you give something back and serve,” he said. “I’ve been involved in the Republican Party for over 30 years. I’ve been helping others with their campaigns. The biggest thing is you have got to have a giving heart and you want to give something back to the community. Not everyone wants to serve in an elected position because there are a lot of things that go along with that, (which) you don’t want to have to put up with.

“But I would love to help others. I feel like this is how I can do that.

“Probably just as important is that our state government and local governments, a lot of times just need a little common sense approach. I think I can bring that common sense approach, as far is Montgomery is concerned.”

Price said he is the only candidate in this race from the private sector. “I think that’s important because in our business every day, we have to use common sense,” he said. “A lot of times in Montgomery, we check common sense at the door, and I think it’s time — by having someone like myself, maybe we can stop and think things through before we waste taxpayers’ dollars with a piece of legislation.”

Price is running for office with education, workforce development and economic development in mind, knowing that all of those affect the other.

“Our platform is pretty simple,” he said. “Economic development is the driving engine in any area. Jobs are what keeps our economy going.”

He wants to make sure local governments have the resources in place to recruit businesses they want.

“All people ask for is a good-paying job to pay their mortgage and make their car payment and maybe go on vacation, but just to enjoy their family,” he said. “If we as elected officials can work with our local economic development boards and local governments to give them the resources, then we’ll have accomplished something.”

Education produces the workforce, so Price said if one isn’t working, the other won’t, either. He hopes to help produce an adequately trained workforce to fill positions in industries that are recruited to the area. He wants young people to have the option to attend college or technical school more easily.

“Those are the things I’ll be pushing,” he said. “I have told people from Day 1, I do not see zip codes; I see a district. This district from the top to the bottom is 168 miles. I do not see county lines. I see a district that was drawn and that’s what is there to serve. That, to me, is very important.”

Price has served multiple terms on the Alabama State Republican Executive Committee as well as the Lee County Republican Executive Committee. He was named Lee County Republican of the Year in 2002 and serves on Congressman Mike Rogers’s Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Price is chairman of the Lee County Industrial Development Board and chairs the Lee County Public Building Authority. He is co-chair of the Lee County Alabama200 Bicentennial Committee and a member of the Achievement Center of East Alabama Foundation Board of Directors. He is a member of the Lee County Farmers Federation Board of Directors and the Lee County Cattleman’s Association, where he served as president and founded the Lee County Cattleman’s Association Scholarship Fund. He was also named “Father of the Year” for that organization.

Price is a professionally-trained auctioneer and has volunteered his skills to organizations like March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, Bruce Pearl Family Foundation, Lee County Association of Realtors, Storybook Farms, Boys and Girls and others.

Price and his wife, Oline, have been married 40 years and are active members of First United Methodist Church in Opelika. They have two sons and one granddaughter.


Mike Sparks set to segue to State Senate seat

By Blenda Copeland

Alabama’s former Director of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences has his mind set on securing the District 13 State Senate seat – the seat being vacated by State Sen. Gerald Dial, who is not seeking re-election.

This district covers a few counties, which includes part of Lee County around the Beulah area, Lake Harding and also Smiths Station as well as the part of Phenix City that’s in Lee County (not the Russell County portion of Phenix City).

Mike Sparks is one of three Republicans vying for the office.

This is Sparks’ first time running for a public office.

“As the outgoing Director of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, I know how government works and I know how to make it work better,” he said. “I can help make government smaller, more transparent and more accountable to the taxpayer. That’s why I’m running for the State Senate.”

Sparks said he lived in Talladega, Ala., until second grade when his family moved to Lineville, Ala. (Clay County), back to the city his parents are from.  Both his grandfathers were businessmen; one owned a clothing store that his parents eventually took over. Sparks said at 12 years old, he had a job there stacking shoes. “I’ve worked all my life,” he said.

Sparks is a Lineville High School graduate, received a biology and chemistry degree from Auburn University and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He said he also for a few weeks did post-graduate work at Harvard.

Sparks retired in December 2017 as the Director of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, a job he was appointed to in 2007 by the Attorney General. Before that, he was assistant lab director in Birmingham, which put him over all technical services: five labs and three morgues.

In the early part of his career, he was a case-working scientist processing evidence for drug/crime scenes. He logged more than 20 years of service working in various capacities for the state’s Forensic Sciences department.

Sparks said what distinguishes him from his opponents is that his state forensic sciences career helped him develop relationships in the legislature as he advocated on the department’s budget issues and getting legislation passed and blocked.

In 2009 he wrote the legislation that today allows law enforcement to collect DNA samples at the point of arrest when it comes to felony arrests and certain misdemeanors. “I authored that legislation,” he said. “It was our bill.”

He also was instrumental in passing legislation allowing video testimony, if courts and attorneys agree, and he helped block some unfunded mandates to his department.

Of his relationships in the legislature through these experiences, he said people “knew they could trust me.”

He clarified that he did not retire in 2017 in order to run for office. He said he had a great career and loved it, but felt it was time to retire. He intended to return to Lineville, and his family did so in February 2017, he said, 10 months before he retired. Then he realized Sen. Dial was not seeking re-election and he decided to run for the office.

If elected, he’d like to see the state get help with its roads, bridges and broadband access. He’s a proponent of education leading to good-paying jobs, pointing to high-demand careers in brick masonry, for instance, and supports the idea of high schoolers being certificated to go directly into work in the construction or electrical fields, for example.

Regarding the state’s opioid abuse problem, he supports approaches to solve it through rehabilitation (including use of transitional drugs, for instance), faith-based programs and mental health programs.

“We need radical change on how we’re addressing this drug problem,” he said.

As for his priorities, he said God comes first, then family, the country and then the job as State Senator (if elected). He pledges to be a “full-time,” respectful senator of all citizens regardless of their station of life, who answers phone calls on his cell phone and answers email.

He also said, as a scientist, he’s trained to look at the data at hand. He also pledges to have an open door and open mind and believes “the only stupid idea is the one we don’t hear.”

“What you see with me is what you get,” he said, which he said may sound naïve, but it’s honest – and if he gives an answer that appears otherwise, it’s because he had “bad data.”

Sparks and his wife have been married 40 years and they have two adult daughters and one grandson. He’s also active in the Lee County Women’s Job Corps training.


Tim Sprayberry casts bid for State Senate seat

By Blenda Copeland

Tim Sprayberry of Heflin, Ala. (Cleburne County), is one of three Republicans casting bids for State Senate, District 13, the seat held by State Senator Gerald Dial, who is not seeking re-election.

This seat represents Chambers, Clay, Cleburne, Lee and Randolph counties.

This is the second time Sprayberry has run for this office. He first ran for this office in 2014 against incumbent State Sen. Gerald Dial.

Sprayberry said the cornerstone of his platform is, “No new taxes.”

He said what distinguishes him from his opponents is, he’s opposed to new taxes. He does not like what he called the “waste, abuse and corruption” he sees in government.

“I’m a constitutional conservative,” he said, stating he believes The Constitution is “the law of the land and in place to protect our God-given rights.”

Continuing, he said, “I’m pro-business, I’m pro-family, (and) I believe in term limits.” Regarding the latter, he said he believes that anyone serving on any legislative branch should be limited to three terms at the most.

Further, “I’m very much pro-education,” he said. “I think it’s time for us to start relying on our children to decide if they’re going to go on to college or take on a technical skill.” He thinks four-year college degrees have been pushed for so long that it’s become a mindset that someone with less than a four-year degree is not on the same level as someone who has such a degree. He pointed to skilled workers who work in the air conditioning, plumbing, electrical and machinist-type industries as examples of people who are well-paid for their trades.

Keeping in mind that “There’s a great demand for carpenters, welders, electricians, machinists” and the like, “I’d love to see us expand our career technical schools,” Sprayberry said. In his mind, achieving that will “take a culture change” from today’s common mindset on four-year degrees.

Sprayberry is a father of a recently married 25-year-old son; and he has thus gained “a daughter” as a new father-in-law.

As for his work experience, Sprayberry said he’s worn a badge for many years. He said he graduated from Auburn (University) and days after graduation began doing police work in Opelika, Ala., for the Opelika Police Department. He said he finished his law career with the Anniston Police Department. “Now I’m semi-retired,” he said, noting that he takes on odd jobs while enjoying retired life.

Regarding his civic participation, Sprayberry said he has been involved in the Republican Party 30 years ago at Auburn University and has served in various leadership positions throughout the party for the last 30 years.

“I’ve served on the Chamber of Commerce here (in Cleburne County) and served a term as a chairman.”

Additionally, he said he served on the board of directors for the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and served many years ago on the board of directors for the Police Benevolence Association.

As for the reason he’s running for office, he said to him, politics is like a calling: “If you don’t love it and working with and serving other people,” then politics is probably not for you.

If elected, Sprayberry said as Senator, his goal would be to work with and to serve the people of Senate District 13. “I think we’ve been missing that for a while,” he said.