Johnny Ford seeks to regain office he once held
By Blenda Copeland
Former State Rep. Johnny Ford is running again for the District 82 State House of Representatives seat he left 14 years ago, when he was re-elected to serve as Tuskegee’s Mayor.
District 82 represents Macon County and portions of Lee and Tallapoosa counties.
Ford served as Mayor of Tuskegee for 32 years (1972-1996, 2004-2008, and 2012-2016). He served as State Representative for District 82 from 1998-2004, and hopes to win the seat again through an historic bid for re-election.
Ford said during his time in the state legislature, he chaired the Local Legislation committee and was a part of handling local legislation affecting cities.
He said the East Alabama area is blessed to be on the Chattahoochee River and that he will work hard to bring business, industry and tourism here.
Regarding legislative issues he’s passionate about, Ford said he believes in the people’s right to vote. He’s in favor of passing a Constitutional Amendment to allow voters to decide whether to expand Medicaid in Alabama. “That has not happened with the last few governors that we have had,” he said. “This is an issue that should be decided by the people.”
Ford said such an expansion would benefit about 300,000 Alabama lives, equate to about 30,000 jobs and an estimated $1.2 trillion annual boost to the economy.
He also said he’s the only one he’s aware of who’s proposing that the people have the right to vote on the issue of “full-scale gaming.” By that, he clarified that he means “all of the table games.” He said he secured the first legislation allowing the people to vote, which allowed electronic bingo (i.e., at VictoryLand). He said he believes “a coalition of Democrats and Republicans” can get a Constitutional Amendment passed to let people vote on the gaming issue. He believes there’s enough support for gaming, the proceeds of which could support public education and certain government needs.
Ford also said he supports a Constitutional Amendment to establish an educational lottery for the state of Alabama. “We should have that same opportunity in Alabama,” he said as he referenced neighboring states that already have such lotteries.
Regarding some of his achievements while in office, Ford said he’s the legislator who worked to bring to Tuskegee and Macon County a T100 aircraft plant to Moton Field, the historic airfield where the Tuskegee Airmen trained. (The airport there was rebuilt during Ford’s time as mayor in 1974). Ford said being an “Honorary” Tuskegee Airman, he understands the project will mean 750 new jobs for the entire East Alabama area, although it will be housed in Tuskegee.
Regarding public education, “I do not believe that teachers should have guns in the classrooms,” Ford said. However, he said he will work to make sure schools have other resources available to them.
He also reiterated he’s a strong advocate of health care, which he said is a top priority at the state level. He is the Health Care Committee Co-Chair of Alabama SOS (The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy), an organization comprising 40 organizations from across the state, that supports Medicaid enhancements.
If elected this November to return to the legislature, Ford said he’d like to work on bringing a hospital to Tuskegee/Macon County. He’d also like to work on securing more funds to go toward bridges, roads and broadband access for East Alabama. Most importantly, “I will have an open-door policy,” Ford said. He said he’ll work with local county and city officials and will hold town hall meetings in the East Alabama area. He also said he’ll work with the legislative delegation in East Alabama and is asking voters for their support to send “the most qualified person” back to the House of Representatives to help make the House once again “the people’s house: our house.”
As for his endorsements, Ford said he is endorsed by a statewide political organization called Alabama New South Alliance. In a May 20 press release, Ford thanked the May 18 Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) convention’s attendees, and said, “[…] In particular, I want to thank the supporters in the 3rd Congressional District for unanimously endorsing me for State Representative for the 82nd District.” In the press release, Ford said it was “extremely heartwarming and gratifying” to receive a “unanimous endorsement.”
Ford is a graduate of Auburn University where he received his Master’s degree in public administration. He received his B.A. from Knoxville College. He is the founder of the World Conference of Mayors Inc., headquartered in Tuskegee.
Terrance Johnson seeks seat in state legislature
By Blenda Copeland
Terrence K. Johnson, 43, of Tuskegee, has his sights set on securing the State Representative District 82 seat – the seat currently held by incumbent State Rep. Pebblin Walker Warren.
Johnson is one of three Democrats vying for this post, which represents Macon County and portions of Lee and Tallapoosa counties.
Johnson holds his Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and also his MBA degree from Auburn University. He used to serve as chief nursing officer of Noland Hospital in Birmingham and has served as a home health administrator and director of nursing in several places.
He also has been a local business owner for more than 20 years, employing 100 people overall at five daycares he owns – one each in Opelika and Tuskegee and three in Montgomery.
He points to his experience managing a multi-million dollar operation (his businesses) and his more than 12 years in health care background as what set him apart from his candidates.
He said his health care background is a positive, which helps him in talking about the health care part of his platform: “I know about Medicaid and the majority of health care needs,” he said. He has maintained his nursing credentials and has worked extensively in the health care field.
Regarding the jobs element of his platform, “I’m already doing that,” he said of the more than $60,000 payroll he handles for his businesses, which is returning occupational taxes back into the coffers of Tuskegee and Opelika.
Regarding education, Johnson said he’d like to see primary and secondary schools receive the educational funds they need and to see that educators’ salaries are paid at the market rate. He also supports expanding his district’s infrastructure.
Overall, Johnson said he’s ready and eager to lead.
“It is time for new, fresh ideas with a new, young leader,” he said, pointing to another factor that distinguishes him from his opponents. He encourages voters “to vote for the health care professional who’s also a local business owner.”
“I love the citizens of my district and want to hear their concerns and do what I can to improve the lives of the citizens of District 82,” Johnson said.
If elected, Johnson said he’d be someone who’d “communicate with local elected officials and citizens to carry out their wishes. “I’m a candidate that’s going to push the citizens’ issues,” he said.
This is not Johnson’s first bid for public office. He also campaigned for office two years ago for the Macon County Commission and also in 2008 for the District 82 seat. He said he decided to run again for the District 82 seat because it’s at the state level that Johnson feels he can make the greatest, most valuable impact.
Civically and professionally, Johnson is or has been a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Alabama State Nurses Association, America Nurses Association, American Organization of Nurse Executives, Macon County Democratic Club, Opelika Chamber of Commerce, and the Tuskegee Area and Montgomery Area chambers of commerce.
State Rep. Pebblin Warren running for re-election
By Blenda Copeland
State Rep. Pebblin Walker Warren is running for re-election. She is one of three Democrats vying for the District 82 seat, which represents a portion of Lee County.
“I feel as though my job isn’t done,” she said. Warren said the legislature is in such turmoil that experience and knowledge of their processes are required to make any progress.
Warren feels her experience and current working relationship within the State House are what set her apart from her opponents: longevity and tenure are critical, as is current familiarity with legislature members, she said. Warren said seniority in the political arena is paramount, and strong Democrats are needed, given the current super Republican majority.
“I have enjoyed and continually enjoy helping people’s lives, trying to offer skills training,” she said.
She remembers the many people she’s encountered years after she first met them, who have updated her about how they are now nurses working in nursing homes or that their daughters who were once inmates are now in college and working.
Warren is proud of the at least 100 young ladies trained in one program she mentioned, and another program – one for industrial maintenance for adults training at night – who become certified to work in first-time jobs starting at $60,000 or more because they’re highly-trained in fixing industrial machines.
“There is just so much that I really enjoy doing,” she said. “I deal with the politics in Montgomery, but at the same time, I deal with real people and I change real people’s lives.”
That’s another point that Warren thinks makes her stand out against her opponents: she believes no one else has been involved in as much outreach and touching of people’s lives as she has been.
In addition, Warren said that being in a very diverse district, she understands that adequate funding for Medicaid is necessary. “We should have expanded it, but we didn’t,” she said of the legislature. It’s also important not to see eliminations, as some have proposed.
Meanwhile, regarding the General Fund, “We just don’t have the money,” she said. She believes the state needs to come up with revenue-generating ideas that don’t involve taxing people more. She said there’s talk about gaming and a lottery, but she won’t support those ideas if they don’t include electronic bingo. Neither does she believe that Native Americans should have “exclusivity” in those markets in Alabama.
As for broadband access, she said she’s working really hard on that issue. She said in Macon County, for example, students have iPads they use at school, but the problem is, when they go home, many don’t have Internet access in order to complete their homework. So their parents have to take them to places like McDonald’s where they can get the Internet access they need. “It’s very expensive, and we all acknowledge that,” she said, however, she believes this is another way in which revenue-generating ideas will help the state.
“My main thing is helping change lives and making lives better,” Warran said. “It has never been about me.”
She noted that she quit her $100,000-plus salaried job to focus on her efforts as a legislator. She said people told her she was “crazy” for doing that, but she believed all would work out okay. Her job as a legislator is that important to her. “I chose between my job and the legislature,” she said, because of the concerns in the district.
“There’s a need for a person like me in the Alabama legislature,” she said.
According to Warren’s biography on the Alabama Legislature Web site, “(Warren) was first elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in a special election held on March 8, 2005.
“She holds a B.S. Degree in Business Administration and a M.Ed. Degree in Personnel Administration from Tuskegee University.”
She is listed on the state legislature Web site as being a member of the following committees: Health, Rules, Ways and Means, General Fund, and Lee County Legislation.
According to a biography on Tuskegee University’s Web site, Warren lives in Tuskegee. Aside from her Tuskegee University education, she is also listed as having a certificate of Business from the University of Notre Dame Graduate Division.