Doug Jones: Seeking common ground beyond the political rhetoric

By Doug Jones

My name is Doug Jones and I am a candidate in the August 15 Democratic primary for the Unites States Senate. I am running for this seat because I experienced firsthand that public servants can, and should, have a positive effect on people’s lives. I am running because it seems that our leaders in Washington are spending more time talking at each other than talking to each other. We desperately need to change that. I believe I can help bring about the change that is needed.

Most folks in Birmingham know of my work as United States Attorney but let me briefly tell you a few things you may not know that helped shape my career. I was born into a blue-collar family in Fairfield, Alabama – to a father who worked for U.S. Steel and a stay-at-home mom, one grandfather who was a steelworker and the other a coal miner. I am a product and lifelong resident of Alabama. As I came of age in the 60s and 70s, my belief in civil rights and equal protections for everyone came from my experiences growing up during the era of the desegregation of Alabama’s public schools, including those I attended.

In the fall of 1977, my second year in law school, I cut a few classes of my classes so that I could sit in on the first 16th Street Baptist Church bombing trials led by Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley. There was no greater trial than the Chambliss case – this was the first time I saw real, inspiring change in the cards for Alabama. This tragedy would be revisited some 24 years later when as U.S. Attorney I would be the individual privileged to fight for justice for the four lives lost, and those who felt that justice would never be found.

Following law school at Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, I had the incredible honor of serving as staff counsel to the U.S Senate Judiciary Committee for one of Alabama’s greatest statesmen, U.S. Senator Howell Heflin.

In the fall of 1997 I was nominated to serve as the United States District Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama by President Bill Clinton. The first year of my appointment was also the year of the Birmingham women’s clinic bombing – a scene where I was on site just minutes after the explosion. But it was the prosecutions of Tommy Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that truly defined my life and career. Leading an amazing team of prosecutors and investigators we proved that justice may have been delayed, but it was certainly not denied.

Today, I see another way to continue my long fight for justice. Rightfully so, too many Alabamians do not believe that our government is serving them. The issues that affect our daily lives have moved from substantive debate to mere political footballs being tossed between parties. These issues of common ground must not be obscured by the fog of political rhetoric. I am running to preserve Medicaid and to make sure that all Alabamians have access to quality affordable healthcare. We need to look at the facts, and they are that premiums are far too high, drug prices are outrageous, women’s maternal and infant care is in adequate, and the standard quality of all heath care is too low.

I am also running because we need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage and create the type of middle class jobs that provide the kind of stability my parents gave me when I was growing up. I am running because we need to support public education so that our children will be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century workforce. I am running to stop the efforts by Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration to roll back voting rights and access to the ballot box that so many have sacrificed so much for decades, as well as efforts to return to a failed criminal justice policy that has incarcerated far too many Americans of color.

My heart has always compelled me towards public service, and I am running for the United States Senate to return Alabama to the dignity that you deserve and to stand up for all our citizens, not just a privileged few. I humbly ask for your support on August 15 and to join me in this campaign. Together we can fulfill the promise of the America we know and love.

Doug Jones, a Birmingham attorney, is a candidate for the U.S. Senate in the August 15 Democratic primary.