First time candidate Alli Summerford is the sole Democrat running for House District 48, a seat that includes parts of Birmingham, Homewood, Hoover, Irondale, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills.
While her Republican opponent has yet to be determined — she will face either incumbent Birmingham-Republican Jim Carns or Republican candidate William Wentowski following the June 5 primary — Summerford is the first Democratic candidate for District 48 in over a decade
With a little over three months until voters head to the ballots, AlabamaToday.com is inviting all candidates running for office in Alabama this year, to complete a questionnaire we believe offers an interesting, albeit, thumbnail sketch of who they are and why they are running. If you are a candidate and would like to complete the questionnaire, email Elizabeth@ALToday.com.
Here Summerford is in her own words:
- Significant other? How long married? Kids? I’m not married. My son, Gram, is a junior at Mountain Brook High School, where he is a nationally ranked runner.
- Education background? Professional background? I attended college at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (a detail I hope you will not hold against me!), where I graduated as valedictorian with a BA in Business Administration and an MBA in New Venture Analysis.
- What was your first job before college/adulthood and after? My first job was in a shoe store in the mall when I was 15. It was one of those old-fashioned stores where the employees actually put the shoes on the customers’ feet. After college and business school, I had a successful career as a broker in the Memphis commercial real estate firm Trammell Crow.After that, I founded a national web design company, dandelion marketing, that I have run for almost 20 years. I also share my expertise in visual identity and search engine optimization as a consultant and speaker. Along the way, I created a popular website about the ‘80s as a hobby, which I sold to an investor in 2016.
- In 25 words or less, why are you running for office? Alabama is 49th in everything but football, and we can do better, starting with bringing some new faces and voices into the state house.
- Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement? From whom? I spoke with several people, but the thing that encouraged me most was when I attended a speech during Doug Jones’s campaign where he issued a call for decency and common sense, and I left with tears in my eyes. I had never even considered running for office before, but I realized that we are complacent at our peril, and we cannot trust other people to take care of things.
- Who do you count on for advice besides significant other or clergy? I look to my parents and friends for advice; I am blessed to have a great support system of amazing people I trust.
- Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager? My campaign manager is Tamara Sansbury, who has been my close friend for almost 20 years. She is also new to politics.
- Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate? My first donation came from an old friend and fellow single mom, whose oldest son and my son have been friends since they were little. She and I have some shared experiences, and she was so excited about my taking this leap.
- Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government? I’m inspired by Anthony Daniels, who is the minority leader in the state house. He shares my passionate commitment to improving healthcare and education in this state.
- Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it? People mistrust elected officials in Alabama because they have elevated special interests over the people’s interests, through lax campaign finance laws, a long history of cronyism, and a lack of transparency in Montgomery. I’m committed to a legislative agenda that puts the people first by ensuring fair elections and enacting and enforcing tough ethical standards and strong campaign finance laws.
- What are 3 specific policy positions that you’re running on? (Please don’t simply say “education” or “improving the schools”) First, I don’t believe that the state legislature should tell the people of Mountain Brook how much money they can spend on education, just as I don’t believe that the state legislature should tell Birmingham what its minimum wage should be. It’s time to reform the constitution to empower the people closest to a problem to fix it themselves.Second, my small business builds websites and advises other businesses on internet marketing. Neither of those fields existed when I graduated from high school. We owe it to our children to make sure that they are prepared to adapt to a future that looks a lot different than it looks today. I want to improve teacher compensation so that we attract and retain first-class teachers that are equipped to teach our children.Third, Alabama is one of the unhealthiest states in the nation despite the fact that we are home to some of the leading health institutions in the world. We should expand access to those institutions by expanding Medicaid. The federal government is offering to give us $100 for every $5 we spend on Medicaid. As a small business owner, I know a good deal when I see one, and that is an extremely good deal.
- What is a “disruptive” issue (i.e. ride-sharing) you are interested in? I’m very interested in solar power and its ability to provide a long-term source of clean, renewable energy. Alabama law discourages the use of solar power, and that needs to change.
- Name one current state law you would want repealed? I want to repeal the Alabama Uniform Minimum Wage and Right-to-Work Act, which concentrates the power to regulate relationships between workers and their employers in Montgomery, rather than allowing local governments to take the steps they deem necessary. Montgomery has too much power and has wielded it too unwisely.
- Who was the best governor in Alabama’s modern history? Alabama’s political history is filled with what-ifs, and there are several moments that are inspirational to me, where Alabama could have taken a different road. One is when Governor Albert Brewer, whom I had the privilege of meeting several times before he died last year, ran for re-election against George Wallace in 1970. Alabama had the chance to turn from our segregationist past, reform our constitution, and fix our ethics laws. Unfortunately, we let that opportunity slip by.
- What will set you apart from other candidates in this race? I don’t yet know who my Republican opponent will be, but I would challenge whoever it is to match my commitment to common sense reform and improving healthcare and education.
- What’s the first thing you read each morning? theSkimm – the email is waiting on me each morning, and it gives me a quick overview of important things happening around the world.
- Where do you get your political news? For Alabama political news, I follow Kyle Whitmire and John Archibald. For national and world news, I tend to trust The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR.
- Favorite TV series? Ooh, that’s a tough one. I love several Netflix series, including ‘Stranger Things,’ “Ozark,’ and a French detective series called ‘La Mante.’
- Social media presence? Twitter handle? Facebook? Who posts you, campaign staff, combination?
- In 140 characters, what’s a Tweet that best describes your campaign message. Quality healthcare and education for all is not a partisan platform. When its people thrive, Alabama thrives.
- Hobbies? I devote a lot of time to supporting my son, who shares my love of running. When I am not at one of his meets or running with friends, I enjoy good food and good company.
- Favorite sport and sports team? Mountain Brook High School Track and Field!