With a little over three months until voters head to the ballots, AlabamaToday.com is inviting all of the candidates, including appointed-incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, 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.
Today’s candidate spotlight features Brian McGee, a Lee County Democrat who believes the nation must begin to put Country in front of Party.
Here he is in his own words:
- Significant other? Kids? Married to Jacqueline Harrison McGee for 47 years. Son, Jonathan, Navy vet, works for the Department of Defense in Japan, married with 3 children. Daughter, CPA in Florida, married with one child.
- Education background? Professional background?
Military Background: Volunteered Infantry during Vietnam War, Attended Officer Candidate School and in 4 years of active duty rose from private to Army Captain, Ranger Training, Jungle Warfare, Biological, Chemical and Nuclear Warfare training, Commander of 39th Scout Dogs for the 173rd Airborne in Vietnam, Military awards include Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, significant achievement –13 months in Vietnam and did not lose a single man, Company Commander of an Engineer Reserve Company
Educational Background: Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with minor in Science, Master’s Degree in Educational Technology, Specialist Degree in School Administration. Taught for 11 years in the United States and then went to work for the Department of Defense Schools living 25+ years in Bahrain in the Middle East, Panama, Japan and England. Traveled to over 50 countries.
- What was your first job? As a teenager I worked on a farm. Then I joined the US Army. After the army and while in college, I was a common laborer building tunnels, bridges and digging ditches.
- In 25 words or less, why are you running for office? As a nation we MUST begin to put Country in front of Party. We must put the people FIRST. We CAN do this.
- Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement? From whom? Before putting my name in the ring, I talked to the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party, Nancy Worley, and also Jessie Smith, who had twice been a candidate for the US House Seat in the 3rd congressional district. I also, of course, talked in great detail with my wife and adult children. This was a decision that would affect all of our lives and their input was critical.
- Who do you count on for advice? My wife of 47 years is my primary confidante and advisor. After that, I have to give a nod to my sister who is a Republican, my pastor/priest and even my Bible Study Group. They are significant as they have a wide range of opinions from right to left and all points in between. I can float an idea with some of them and get an interesting and thoughtful comeback.
- Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager? What you see is what you get. This is a grassroots organization and we are not being politically correct. We speak from the heart and from years of experience gained through an incredible life, well lived and including a wide set of experiences.
- Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate? I cannot appropriately share the individual’s name, but she resides in Oregon. I used to work with her in Europe and she knows and trusts I will put country over party or and over getting elected or reelected.
- Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government? I wanted to talk about someone current and so I am picking Governor Kay Ivey. She is the second woman to be governor of Alabama and the first teacher to sit as governor. I believe she is someone who could get things done for Alabama and its people. I am filled with hope. At the current time, if you look on her website she lists five initiatives. The Military Stability Commission, Aerospace Caucus, End Child Hunger, Economic Development, and Girl’s State. I support all of those initiatives but I would include the following: a commission on improving public education, one on expanding health care opportunities in Alabama, and, within the Economic Development commission, expanding the Green Technology sector, using the successful template used of the Aerospace industry.
- Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it? The reason I am running is I mistrust many, if not most, politicians. We in Alabama deserve better than people who lie to and mislead us in order to get into office. Many of these people seek votes with slick campaign ads but people are not stupid and their real needs should be addressed. My understanding is that Strange is coming into this election with a 4 million dollar war chest. ‘Who is control? Those who vote or those who fund? So what will I do differently when elected? I pledge to all Alabamians that I will work to get money OUT of politics. I tell anyone donating to my campaign that I WILL PUT COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY AND COUNTRY WAY BEFORE MONEY. If that is unacceptable, then I really do not want the money.
- What are 3 issues that you’re running on? (Please don’t simply say “education” or “improving the schools”)
- Solving problems. Typically politicians do not try to solve problems. They are after good sound bites and things that will help them and their party get elected and stay in power. They twist and mislead. They sow alt-facts and spread downright lies in order to get elected. I was trained in the military that if you are given a mission you need to break that mission down into its component parts and devise a plan to SOLVE the problem. I do not care what side of the aisle has the idea or who gets the credit. I care about the results. We need to solve problems. The bottom line is elected politicians need to put “We the People” and COUNTRY in front of Party or their own jobs. They have been elected to SERVE THE PEOPLE not the money.
- Jobs and the economy. Everyone gives lip service to jobs. I want to do something about it. We need to look at the macro or big trends in our society and act on them. A good example is Green Technology. Alabama has plenty of sun. It is free and renewable. We need to get a lot more money for research and development into OUR universities. We need to develop an economic area in our state, working actively to attract solar companies to relocate here. Build an economic zone dedicated to Green Technology similar to what was done with the aerospace industry in Huntsville. We have the sun, we have a good environment for business. We need to go out there, and develop zones that cater to specific Green Industries. Enough with all the arguing about “Global Warming.” Within three years demand for solar energy will reach the 20 trillion dollar mark worldwide. We need to get a piece of that pie not just for our families and the economic benefits it will bring to the working man and women of Alabama, but for the infusion of dollars into our Alabama tax base.
- Healthcare. The Republican Party has lied to Alabamians and democrats have allowed that lie to impact health care for its people. The lie begins with the Affordable Care Act and continues with the new proposed health care bill. Looking at the newest House bill, the CBO or the Congressional Budget Office says 23 million people will lose their healthcare. Will YOU be one of them?The CBO says elderly people, earning less than 27,000 will pay over 5 times what they currently pay for their health care, because of a decrease in subsidies, let alone a change in requirements so that insurance companies, currently limited to three times premium for young healthy people, can charge five times. Do you or one of your parents fit into this category? If you are elderly and are paying $2,000 for insurance right now, it could go to over $10,000. So here is the common-sense test that they are lying to you. So you don’t know who to believe. Well there is a logic test and you can cut right to the bottom line. When will the provisions of this bill go into effect? Logic says that if it is a great, wonderful bill, then an effective date BEFORE an election should be beneficial, but provisions of the house-passed bill will not fully implement until 2022, AFTER two elections. So forget the glossy ads. Forget the hype and all the paid talking heads on CNN or Fox News. They are planning to put the new health care bills into effect after the election, not before. They are lying to you about Health Care.
Another huge lie related to health care is the VA (Veterans Administration). They are talking about privatizing the VA. There are over 150 VA hospitals and about 1,000 clinics. Back in 2015 they served about 6 million veterans. Now let’s cut to the chase. Why do they want to do away with the VA.? It is all about money. Their big money special interests are drooling to get their hands on the billions of dollars the government pays to support the veteran. Since it is controlled by the federal government THEY CAN’T MAKE MONEY OFF OF THE VET. Just do the logic test. They want to make money off of this. Now, they argue “wait times are terrible.” This could be true but if you gave the VA enough money to adequately service the veterans there wouldn’t be any long wait time would there? Now think about your own wait times in hospitals and with doctors. Let’s talk about closing 150 hospitals, 1,000 clinics and dumping 6,000,000 veterans on the civilian health care system. This is not better for the veterans and it is not better for YOU. If 6,000,000 vets are going to civilian hospitals, YOUR hospitals and YOUR clinics what is going to happen to YOUR wait times?
This whole issue has been fabricated but there is there a solution. Yes there is a solution. The answer is simple: increase funding and provide increased oversight. About eighty percent of our congressmen have not served in the military. They want the votes and wave the flags but in office they vote with the MONEY and not for the people. There are no deep pockets asking politicians to support the current VA. If the VA isn’t funded sufficiently, is there any doubt as to why it might fail? For an analogy, most everyone reading this has a car. Even if the car is brand new, if you only put gas in it to keep it going, eventually it will fail. You have to maintain anything you want to survive. That goes for marriages, cars or Veterans hospitals and clinics. We need to fund and maintain the VA system. Veterans entered into a contract with the American people and the American government. They put their lives on the line and in return the government promised to support them should they get hurt in the defense of their country. They did not make any contract to some “for-profit” company who has one thing on its mind and that is making money. Remember, a Veteran is a person who at some time in their life wrote a blank check to the United States Government, pledging all they are and have up to and including their life in defense of their nation. That nation has an obligation to live up to it promise.
- What is a “disruptive” issue (i.e. ride-sharing) you are interested in? The single most disruptive issue facing this nation is Money in Politics. It is the root of a lot of the evil you see in politics. Unlimited money is buying the politicians and they do not owe their allegiance to “We the People.” They owe it to the money that got them elected. In the old days, when there wasn’t a zillion dollars in campaigns, when politicians relied on small donations from real people, politicians were responsive to their electorate. That isn’t the case anymore. All you have to do is ask your representative when he held his last Town Hall Meeting and when he plans to hold his next Town Hall Meeting. They don’t want to talk to you. My experience with my congressman has been when I call, he doesn’t even have his office take names or phone numbers. “We the People” need to force them to put people and country above Party and Money. If you want to really make America GREAT AGAIN, get the money out of politics.
- Who was the best governor in Alabama’s modern history? For the reasons I outline above in question #9, I have high hopes for Governor Kay Ivey.
- Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district? Yard signs get down to the grassroots of who seems to be supported in a community. The problem is, the people with deep pockets can buy all the yard signs they want and the new guys, running for office to try and fix things in Washington, don’t have the deep pockets. It is like any other form of advertising. At $3 per sign, how many a person can afford is dependent on your donors. It is a vicious circle of power and money and bought elections.
- What’s the first thing you read each morning? For news I go between CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. If one represents ALL the people you need to see what ALL the people are reading. For spiritual well-being, my wife and I have a morning routine that includes reading the bible and other spiritual writers.
- Where do you get your political news? As stated above, for news I go between CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. If one represents ALL the people you need to see what ALL the people are reading.
- 60 Minutes or House of Cards? I have been an avid follower of 60 Minutes for years now.
- Social media presence? Twitter handle?
- In 140 characters, what’s a Tweet that best describes your campaign message. We must put PEOPLE and COUNTRY in front of Party and Money. “We the People” are smarter than the politicians, big money, and slick lies.
- Hobbies? My hobbies include training and running my bird dogs, gardening, camping, travel, and spending time with family.
- Favorite sport and sports team? For those that know what it is, my dad played A-Ball. I myself loved hockey the most. I played it while in the seminary but for some reason it is not very popular in Alabama. As for football, I live within 30 miles of Auburn. Need I say more?