Mallory Hagan ready to be next Congresswoman
By Blenda Copeland
Former Miss America (2013) Mallory Hagan, 29, of Opelika, is campaigning to be Alabama’s next Congresswoman (3rd Congressional District) in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is vying for the seat currently held by incumbent Congressman Mike Rogers.
The seat represents a large area of East Alabama, which includes Lee County, extending south into Russell County, west past Tuskegee, and north of Cedar Bluff.
“To me, this is about standing up for other people,” Hagan said of why she’s running for office.
She pointed to her successful efforts to change the leadership at the Miss America pageant after she became the subject of ill-spirited internal emails as a demonstration of how she could, as this area’s next Congresswoman, effect change.
“It showed me how powerful using your voice and advocating can be,” she said of the experience. “I’m not afraid to stand up for what I think is right,” she added. What is right includes putting someone in office who is going to listen, she said.
Hagan said, given her background as someone creating and delivering the news for a year and a half before seeking office (she reported for Columbus, Ga., TV broadcast station WTLZ), she’s familiar with stories about police brutality, people who come to this country to improve their lives and other, similar stories.
She said some issues that are important to her include expanding Medicaid; opening rural birthing centers; and sustaining broadband access to help Alabama continue to learn and expand the use of telemedicine. She’s also passionate about advancing Career Technical education.
Economic advancement is also important to Hagan, who will be looking at tourism if elected, and who thinks trying to attract the film industry to Alabama is a good idea.
Also, “Agriculture is our largest opportunity in this state,” she said, noting it’s not living up to its full potential.
She’s also mindful of the image the state reflects. “If we don’t change the culture, nothing will happen,” she said. She put that in the context of a business like Amazon scouting where to establish another headquarters: if a place like Alabama doesn’t appear welcoming of others, “We lose out on opportunities like that.”
“We’ve got to put a stop to the type of rhetoric that we’ve seen creeping back into our lives,” Hagan said.
As for her roots, “My family is the people of Alabama,” she said, noting that her parents, who had her at age 18, saw their share of struggles. “We utilized government assistance,” she said of the early part of her life. “My mom worked two jobs […] I learned really quickly that I had to work or I couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do. […]
“I was raised by the village […] My parents lived paycheck to paycheck just about my entire childhood.”
Hagan, who moved to New York after a year at Auburn University, said she knows personally what it’s like to struggle to make a life for herself. She worked multiple jobs and also completed her associate’s degree in Advertising, Marketing and Communications from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
As for her stance in the race, Hagan said she’s ready to take on the challenges ahead.
She invites anyone interested in learning more about her and her campaign to come to her campaign headquarters on Wednesdays from 6-9 p.m.
Adia Winfrey set to be state’s next Congresswoman
By Denise DuBois
Dr. Adia McClellan Winfrey is one of two Democratic candidates seeking election as U.S. Representative for Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District. Congressman Mike Rogers currently holds the seat.
Winfrey is a Talladega-based author and clinical psychologist. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio and her doctorate degree from Wright State University.
“I am a passionate leader that is moving with the spirit,” she said. “This is the task I feel that was given to me for a specific time and I’m ready to step up and be the leader we’re all looking for. I’m honored and excited to be the Democratic candidate.”
Winfrey is running on an “A.E.I.O.U.” campaign.
“A” stands for agriculture. “I’m definitely one to understand the importance of food and good soil and water,” she said. “It’s time to have a leader who puts emphasis on that. This is our number one industry.”
“E” stands for education. Winfrey wants to develop a better path for education and fully ensure the safety of Alabama schools. “I” stands for innovation. She wants to promote increased access to technology and healthcare. “O” stands for opportunity. “Everybody deserves an equal chance for the American Dream,” she said. “I want to be a leader who makes a change in that way.”
“U” stands for unity. She wants to employ new ways to unite the country. “It’s time for a leader who is ready to be mature and bring some life to Washington and let that trickle down to the general public,” Winfrey said.
Winfrey said she decided to run for office after helping with the Doug Jones campaign last year.
“I’ve always been politically engaged and socially active,” Winfrey said. “I volunteered with the Doug Jones campaign last year in Talladega. I was doing phone calls, then they asked for more boots on the ground, so we started knocking on doors.”
When she realized that a lot of Republicans run unopposed, she noticed it was time.
“I thought about it and prayed about it,” she said. “Then I took the leap.”
Winfrey is the creator of Healing Young People through Empowerment (H.Y.P.E.), which incorporates rap music and lyrics into group therapy sessions for at-risk youth, with emphasis on black males in juvenile corrections. In 2015, she co-founded an online platform H.Y.P.E. To date, her company, Elevating Us, has served more than 4,000 youth and 2,000 educators and mental health professionals. When earning her doctorate degree, Winfrey wrote her dissertation on rap music and hip hop culture.
“At the time, all the dissertations looked at the culture from a negative point of view,” Winfrey said. “Hip hop raised me. I started doing research and looking at rap music. From there, I developed a curriculum that became my dissertation. It took on a life of its own and became my first book,” she said.
In 2015, BlackDoctor.org awarded her the “2015 Champion of Change” Award at its annual “Top Blacks in Healthcare Awards” event. Learn more about Winfrey, her campaign and organization at www.drdiaforcongress.com and www.letsgethype.com. She is part of the Order of the Eastern Star, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Alabama Democratic Committee.
Winfrey has four children: Donovan, 14; Daymion, 12; and twins Ameerah and Aidan, 10.