Top Republican contenders for Alabama governor pitch voters in Vestavia Hills

Four of the top contenders for the Republican nomination for governor made their cases to lead the state Saturday during a candidates' forum hosted by the Mid Alabama Republican Club in Vestavia Hills.

The forum, at the Vestavia Hills library, marked the first time that the candidates - Gov. Kay Ivey, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, state Sen. Bill Hightower and evangelical preacher Scott Dawson - spoke to the same group.

Dawson said the state's damaged reputation from political scandals spurred him to get into the race.

"My heart was just broken, broken from what we've seen happening across our state. Things have to change," he said. "We've got to keep Alabama going forward."

Among his policy proposals, Dawson advocated for pre-K programs to be optional, not mandatory "because government cannot do a better job than parents." He also said there needs to be mentors in classrooms for those students who come from a single-parent household.

Dawson suggested that high school students face mandatory drug testing for any extracurricular activity "so they can get help" before they wind up in the criminal justice system.

The evangelical preacher also said Alabama should have both state-based drug rehab along with faith-based programs that make addicts "rehabbed, redeemed and ready" to face the world.

On the economy, Dawson said unnecessary regulations are hurting the state, and said he would work to undo such regulations if elected.

"It's time to set Alabama businesses free."

This segment appeared in a February 13, 2018 article on — click here for the full story.