The Cullman Times: Dawson makes early pitch for governor’s seat

Cullman Republicans got an early post-qualifying visit Tuesday from the first among what’s sure to be a lengthy list of state candidates who’ll make their case before local voters, welcoming Birmingham-area minister and gubernatorial aspirant Scott Dawson.

Dawson, who visited with his wife Tarra, outlined his hopes for the state’s future during an introductory talk for local party members and candidates at a meeting of the Cullman County Republican Women.

Foremost among Dawson’s concerns for the state’s next governor is rehabilitating what he characterized as a badly tarnished reputation for ethical violations and scandal among elected GOP leaders.

“This journey began out of a broken heart — not from being hurt; I’m talking about grieving,” Dawson said of his decision to enter the race. “I’m talking about when our last governor was removed from office.

“…We’ve already seen the corruption across our state that needs to kind of have a new day. We don’t need to relax the laws on ethics; we just need to abide by them.”

Ethics was the first of a brief three-point priority list Dawson set forth for his agenda, should he become governor. The second was a new approach to K-12 education. At the elementary school level, Dawson said he would resist any push to make kindergarten mandatory for all Alabama children, because, “quite honestly, I don’t believe the government can do a better job than the parent,” he said.

At the high school level, Dawson said he would push for mandatory drug testing for students seeking to participate in extracurricular activities — not as a punitive measure, but so that “we can identify if someone has an addiction and offer him or her help, instead of it developing into a lifelong addiction and them ending up in our prison system.”

Dawson also urged hands-on involvement in young people’s lives at the community level, entreating would-be volunteers — retirees, stay-at-home parents and the like — to pitch in at elementary schools, and help cultivate in young people a sense of self-reliance and civic participation.

For his third priority — the state’s economic future — Dawson said it’s time for candidates and elected leaders to stop relying on boilerplate talking points and begin offering actionable policy changes that can help grow businesses of every shape and size. By instituting a policy-shaving initiative he calls “Cut the Tape,” the governor’s office could compel regulatory agencies to justify arbitrary rules that might hamper growth.

“I know we’re celebrating the lowest unemployment rate in the history of our state,” he said, “but we’ve got to get higher wages. Any candidate standing up here is gonna say, ‘We’re gonna recruit jobs,’ so that’s just static noise. So I’m going to turn the corner on you:

“…If there is an industry that’s dealing with regulations or occupational fees…an independent council will be formed, and if the department that originated that fee cannot justify it, it will be immediately removed from the books.”

Dawson will face a crowded field of GOP gubernatorial contenders in the June 5 primary election, including incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey. Other Republicans who’ve qualified in the race include Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Alabama State Sen. Bill Hightower, and Michael McAllister, a Troy resident. Alabama State Sen. Slade Blackwell had qualified to run in the primary, but abruptly dropped out of the race on Monday.

This article appeared in The Cullman Times on February 14, 2018.