The TomorrowToday staff asked each 2019 gubernatorial candidate the same three questions. Their responses follow:
Should Alabama have a lottery? Why or why not? For what purpose?
Jared Schaffer: The state of Alabama should have a lottery. In states that have lotteries today, a percentage of the money brought in is taken out to benefit such needs as education and public safety. The states around us that have lotteries have had enormous benefits from enacting them, benefits that the state of Alabama could also have.
Maggie Sparks: Alabama should have put a lottery in place years ago. Many states have had lotteries for at least 30 years and good has come from them. When used the right way, lotteries can bring in immeasurable amounts of money to deserving people. Initially, there will be start-up costs, however, the amount of revenue brought in will far out way the initial cost. Recent years have proven, through polls and the amount of people flooding to other states that this state wants and is ready for a lottery. Lastly, seeing as we are the second worst education system in America, I believe it is our job to do everything we can to better our school systems and a lottery is a great first step!
James Torbert: Alabama needs a lottery to rejuvenate its many struggling institutions. A lottery should be established with 50 percent of the profits from ticket sales going to the winners, and the other 50 percent being divided between failing schools and a scholarship program. Forty percent should go to the Department of Education to revitalize our failing school systems. Ten percent should be used to establish a scholarship program for underprivileged students, much like Georgia’s HOPE scholarship, that provides financial assistance to high school graduates looking to attend colleges and universities in the state.
What do you consider your biggest character flaw? How are you working to overcome it?
Maggie Sparks: My biggest character flaw is being intimidated by others. For years, I allowed myself to be held back because of my fear of what others in authority and my peers would think of me. However, because of this program and every single person involved, including my amazing advisor, I have been able to overcome this. As governor, I would like to encourage delegates to break out of your comfort zone and not to worry about what others think. Chances are they are just as nervous as you, and even if they aren’t, your voice matters and needs to be heard. To help the program thrive, I would urge others to strive for what they are passionate about, even if it scares them, and help them learn that there is no reason to be intimidated by anyone else.
James Torbert: I am ambitious and driven and sometimes that can make me high strung. I am very detail oriented and meticulous. In the past this had made group work a difficult process for me. At times I have found myself controlling, when I am out of my comfort zone, but over the past few years through Youth in Government I have learned the importance of teamwork, respect and leading by listening.
Jared Schaffer: I want things to be perfect. I’m the kind of person to spend three hours on a project that takes most of my peers 30 minutes. Every time I finish something, I always add something more. There is truly no way I can stop doing this, except by telling myself that not everything can be the way I want it. I’ve come to find that other people are exactly like me and most want to be perfect also, that is why I have learned to listen to what others say and value their opinions, as much I do my own.
How can Alabama make more fresh food available to low-income families?
James Torbert: There is a lack of healthy supermarkets in rural areas. Many families are forced to travel long distances to find healthy food options. The first thing Alabama should do is provide economic incentives, specifically tax breaks, for major fresh food corporations to work with smaller localized markets in rural areas. Secondly, the high cost of fresh, healthy foods, drives low-income families to cheaper, unhealthy, processed foods. Alabama can alleviate this burden by increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) opportunities and simplifying the application process for the program. Currently a household of three must have a cumulative income of less than $26,000 to be eligible. By slightly increasing the income maximum and increasing the number of healthy markets in rural areas thousands of Alabamians will have better access to fresh and healthy food options.
Jared Schaffer: This is a hard question to answer. All around the world people do not have access to fresh food, fresh water and shelter, the necessities of a healthy life. Being involved in the Habitat for Humanity organization, I have found that volunteer work really does make a difference. It is crucial that we help those less fortunate than us, because everyone deserves at least food and water. Ways we can help are encouraging people to volunteer and increase job opportunities like the new car plants that will be stationed in Alabama. Working together to ensure the well-being of our neighbors is how we will end hunger.
Maggie Sparks: Currently, low-income families on food stamps can already purchase fresh foods from any grocery store and some farmers markets are even beginning to accept food stamps. However, as it concerns people not on food stamps, I would think the best way is to make a sin tax on unhealthy products, therefore making fresh products cheaper and forcing many companies to make their products healthier to avoid the tax as well.