A couple of weeks ago, Yellowhammer reported that Rick Burgess announced his endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Scott Dawson on the Rick & Bubba show. Today, we were able to catch up with Mr. Dawson to ask about his candidacy, starting with why he’s running.
I’m running because it’s time for fresh leadership from someone other than a politician. For 30 years, I’ve mobilized communities to work towards one goal and Alabama needs someone who can rally its citizens around a common goal—a better Alabama. For change to take place, there has to be a turning point, a time when people decide they’ve had enough of the status quo, and I believe we’re at that turning point.
While discussions about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of change are important, even more important is the ‘why’. My ‘why’ is that this is a burden God has given me and I’m obligated to follow His leading. For that reason, I don’t have to wake up each day fearing the polls or the pundits. There’s great freedom in just obeying God because it empowers me to make decisions based on my convictions of what I believe this state needs instead following the whims of the day.
Mr. Dawson’s answer prompted Yellowhammer to ask what the state needs to become a ‘better Alabama’ and he said the answer begins with a true understanding of the concerns of its people.
People feel like they no longer have a voice and I want to give them one. In most every race for state office, the three big issues are the same: jobs, industry, and education. While I’m in no way minimizing the importance of those things—they’re very important—it seems most candidates just repackage their take on those big issues in every campaign. I want to start by listening to what the people are saying. That’s why we’re embarking on our listening tour, which we’re calling Listening to Alabama. True communication starts with listening to understand, not just to respond. I’m going to listen to understand the concerns of the people of Alabama.
When we asked Mr. Dawson how he would implement the things he learned on his listening tour, he said that a good place to start is doing a better job of involving the people of Alabama in the process, beyond the voting booth.
Government officials leave a great deal on the table by failing to involve private citizens in implementing change. For example, there’s constant talk in Montgomery about prison reform, and that’s needed, but rarely do we hear anything about reforming prisoners. That’s best done through private-public partnerships, by involving churches, civic groups, and volunteers. The same is true of literacy and increasing graduation rates, as the Project Literacy and Project Graduation campaigns are showing in Marshall County. They’re taking a handful of volunteers from Progress Rail and making a lasting difference in the lives of children and teenagers, breaking the cycle of high school drop outs. The point is, if we harness the power of our citizens, we can make a tremendous difference. It truly should be government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’ as Lincoln said, and if we listen to the wise people of this state, and involve them in the change we must bring, Alabama can become the great state it has the potential to be.
Readers can learn more about Dawson’s campaign at scottdawson.com
Larry Huff is Yellowhammer’s Executive Editor and you can find him on Twitter @LHYellowhammer