Former Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb is a frontrunner in a sea of seven Democrats candidates vying for their Party’s nomination for governor this year.
Cobb was elected the first female Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, where she made Alabama the first state in the nation to implement electronic filing of all court cases, saving judges and court personnel hundreds of hours of work, and Alabama taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. During her time on the court, she also implemented drug courts in 66 of 67 counties, saving abusers and their victims by breaking the cycle of jail and addiction.
Now she’s running for governor because, “it is time that someone was honest about the real challenges we face as a state and about what we need to do to move Alabama in the right direction. We deserve the facts. We deserve the truth. We deserve progress. This requires honest leadership.”
Here Cobb is in her own words:
- Significant other? How long married? Kids? I have been married to my husband Bill since 1990. Between us, Bill and I have three children, Bill, Andy, and Caitlin
- Education background? Professional background? I began my college career at a small Methodist school in Kentucky, Asbury College. I transferred to The University of Alabama to complete my undergraduate degree, then attended The University of Alabama School of Law. I was appointed District Judge in my home Conecuh County at the age of 25, served two elected terms as District Judge, two terms on the Court of Criminal Appeals, and as the first female Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
- What was your first job before college/adulthood and after? Before college, I worked as an x-ray lab technician at the Evergreen Hospital. Three weeks after passing the Bar, I was appointed District Judge.
- In 25 words or less, why are you running for office? I am running to save community hospitals, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, ensure clean drinking water, and secure passage of the Lifelong Learner Lottery.
- Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement? From whom? I spoke with a number of leaders, public officials, and community organizers inside and outside the party who encouraged me to run. One of my strongest early advocates was John Baker, former Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party.
- Who do you count on for advice besides significant other or clergy? It depends on the subject matter of the issue. I seek advice from a wide array of people I respect and admire in so many fields from healthcare (like Dr. Edward Partridge) to economic development (like Dr. David Bronner). I often seek advice from my brother, close friends from law school (such as Bill Garrett, head of the Civil Division of the
Alabama Attorney General’s Office), Judge James Anderson, Judge John Graham, and numerous other legal minds throughout the state.
- Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager? My political consultant is David Browne, a Georgia native who was the creative genius behind “Let Her Shine.” This nationally-acclaimed ad contributed greatly to my success in my campaign to be the first female Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. My Campaign Manager is Landon Nichols, a native of Perry County, Alabama. He is a two- time graduate of The University of Alabama and boasts a Masters of Public Administration. He most recently worked in economic development and tourism at the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce.
- Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate? My very first contributor was a dear friend, mentor, and neighbor named Janie Gilliland. Janie’s husband was a professor at Auburn University and later served as a lawyer with Holtzford & Gilliland. Janie also recently retired from a successful legal career. Sadly, we lost Floyd in 2016, but he and Janie have always believed in me and encouraged me, and it was my honor for Janie to be the first contributor to this bid for governor.
- Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government? I am inspired by the bravery of a number of correctional officers who enter our overcrowded, underfunded prisons each day. Additionally, I find hope for this state in the legions of dedicated career civil servants from teachers to social workers to first responders who move our state forward.
- Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it? Far too many elected officials in Alabama care only about their next election NOT the next generation. Their actions do not match their words or their promises. I have spent my entire career holding individuals accountable. My pledge is to hold myself accountable, the cabinet and executive branch accountable, and most importantly hold the legislature accountable. When they fail to pass the Lifelong Learner Lottery or the fuel tax, I will go back to their respective counties to ensure that their constituents are aware that their representatives care more about themselves than the people of Alabama.
- What are 3 specific policy positions that you’re running on? (Please don’t simply say “education” or “improving the schools”)
- I am running to secure the passage of the Lifelong Learner lottery to fund Pre-K education, 0-3 childcare, career technical education in Alabama high schools, and the gap between Pell Grants and the cost of college tuition. This will result in fully meeting our workforce development needs and it will show the world that Alabama is open for business.
- Additionally, I am advocating a modest but adequate increase to the fuel tax to repair our crumbling roads and bridges and to deepen and widen the channel to the Port of Mobile.
- Finally, I am proposing to save our community hospitals by expanding Medicaid eligibility and by securing funding for quality, long-term substance abuse treatment centers that can better utilize existing facilities.
- What is a “disruptive” issue (i.e. ride-sharing) you are interested in? I am focused on ensuring that current Alabamians and future generations have access to clean water for drinking, bathing, and recreation. Right now, Alabama has 31 counties with higher levels of childhood lead toxicity than Flint, Michigan. We have raw sewage and harmful chemical waste contaminating rivers and streams from the Tennessee Valley to Mobile Bay and everywhere in between. In order for us to have a healthy, productive workforce, our people must have safe, clean water. A huge portion of our economy depends on clean water, particularly our growing tourism sector and robust seafood industry.
- Name one current state law you would want repealed? There are so many laws in Alabama that need to be reformed. I believe it is incredibly important for us to rewrite our marijuana laws so as to allow the personal use of medical marijuana and to reduce the penalties for possession of small amounts. As far as repealing a law outright, I believe that we should repeal the prohibition on hunting over bait so that our hunting destinations can better compete with other states.
- Who was the best governor in Alabama’s modern history? Albert Brewer. He was the epitome of everything a statesman should be, and he had the strength of his convictions. Even after his defeat, he spent every single day working to improve the lives for all Alabamians.
- What will set you apart from other candidates in this race? I’m the only candidate running for Governor on either side of the partisan divide who was elected to lead an entire branch of government. While doing so, I received national acclaim for the many reform efforts I pursued such as expanding model drug courts, juvenile justice reform, and taking our courts paperless, saving taxpayers millions.
- What’s the first thing you read each morning? Almost every morning, I turn to God’s Word for guidance and strength. This gives me the spiritual armor to fight for the people of Alabama every single day.
- Where do you get your political news? I get the majority of my political news from my Twitter feed, but I pay careful attention to the source and ensure that I am only getting my news from reputable sources.
- Favorite TV series? I wish I had time to watch more tv, but I could not point to one modern series that I
watch consistently. Over the course of my life, I would have to say my favorite series was M*A*S*H.
- 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. It’s time for a governor who cares more about the next generation than their next election. It’s time for leaders who care more about people than politics.
- Hobbies? I enjoy playing the piano both at home and for my Sunday school class on occasion. Additionally, I enjoy riding horses with my daughter, boating, hiking, kayaking, and virtually anything that gets me out into Alabama’s great outdoors. One of my most favorite hobbies, though, is indulging in dark chocolate.
- Favorite sport and sports team? My favorite sport is without a doubt football.
With a little over a month 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.