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May 17, 2022

CHANGING THE STATUS QUO: Burdette wants to change the Montgomery machine to make Alabama better

The Wetumpka Herald | Cliff Williams May 12, 2022 Updated May 12, 2022

KPVI | May 14, 2022

Lew Burdette is tired of seeing Alabama at the bottom of so many categories — like education, healthcare and prisons.

Burdette believes change is hampered by political corruption with “unlimited campaign contributions” keeping many in power for decades. Instead of hoping Montgomery politicians will change their ways from afar, Burdette wants to bring change to Montgomery’s political landscape through the office of governor of Alabama.

“We have a great state; we have great people,” Burdette said. “Why are we at the bottom? I truly feel like its lifetime politicians that keep us at the bottom and never move this state forward. It is just the status quo and I want to see things change. People all across this state tell me they want to see change.”

Burdette believes change in Montgomery starts with the governor having an active role.

“I think the governor has to provide leadership,” Burdette said. “When the governor sets the agenda and has bold positions and legislators know that the governor has their back, let’s move this state forward working together.”

Education is where it all begins for Burdette. It’s the foundation for improving the state and seeing Alabama’s residents get better paying jobs.

“With better education, we will have better jobs, that is the key,” Burdette said. “We have to bring in better, higher paying jobs for the rural areas.”

Burdette said Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile are getting jobs but work must be done to spread the wealth.

“We have got to have them in the rural areas too,” Burdette said. “What holds us back in bringing in jobs in these rural areas is education. Nobody wants to locate there.”

Burdette said examples of how to improve education are everywhere.

“We have a great template in Florida,” Burdette said. “The first thing DeSantis did was take out common core.

“We got to have real school choice where parents really have a choice,” Burdette said. “It doesn’t work everywhere. It doesn’t work in rural areas, in places parents can’t drive to the next county over to a different school system. But there are alot of areas in Alabama where school choice can work.”

Burdette’s idea of school choice would have funding follow the student, even homeschoolers.

“A child’s zip code shouldn’t determine a child’s future,” Burdette said. “We have a child education savings account that goes only to the child and not the parents. They have already tried that. It has to go to the child and classroom education. Let the parents have a choice.” 

Career technical programs and Alabama’s Community College System are high on the list for making a change in Alabama.

“Without better education, we can’t have better paying jobs,” Burdette said. “Career tech, I think that is the future for education. We have 26 wonderful community colleges. We need dual enrollment in every high school. We need to be funding dual enrollment.”

Burdette has been a part of King’s Home for nearly two decades and has seen the success of those trade programs.

“At King’s Home, some of our kids are getting welding certifications in high school,” Burdettee said. “As soon as they graduate high school, they are getting jobs making $20 per hour. They are in an apprenticeship program and go to a junior college…”

Burdette said dual enrollment programs should also be available to those students seeking to go to four year schools too. 

Access to healthcare has become a large issue in Alabama. Many residents can only get medical help hours away. As a child, Burdette experienced kidnapping, assault, gunshots and being left for dead.

“Without a hospital nearby, I wouldn’t be here,” Burdette said. “I wouldn’t have made it had I had to wait another hour for medical help.”

According to Burdette, eliminating one large hurdle would be a game changer for rural healthcare.

“We have to do away with certificate of need,” Burdette said. “It has got to go away. We had 6,400 beds applied for during COVID that were denied because of certificate of need because the big hospitals want to dictate and manage where the beds are. They want to force people in rural areas to have to drive to get healthcare.”

The small hospital that treated Burdette as a 15-year-old is closed, but he believes rural healthcare needs to be put in local hands.

“Small, rural communities want to support their own 20 bed hospital, which is doable in a lot of these areas, then they ought to be able to do that,” Brunette said. “We have to do away with a lot of that bureaucracy and have common business sense solutions to give medical providers the flexibility to do what they need to do.”

Burdette is critical of incumbent Alabama Governor Kay Ivey who hasn’t participated in debate. But Burdette’s criticism doesn’t stem from abstaining from current debates among gubernatorial candidates.

“If she was going to increase the gas tax 56 percent she should have campaigned on it,” Burdette said. “She should have debated it. She should have debated it last week. Revenues are surging. We have a $1.2 billion surplus. We have a $3.2 billion rainy day fund. We have another $1 billion of COVID money coming. We have $770 million of COVID money they just spent. Spending is up 30 percent in the last three years. We have more tax revenue than we have ever had. Yet the first thing the governor did was increase our gas tax 56 percent to build better roads and bridges. Well that is just wrong.”

Burdette said he believes Alabama is in a position to provide some relief to residents.

“Alabamians are hurting,” Burdette said. “Why didn’t they put a moratorium on the gas tax and repeal that gas tax? Why haven’t they repealed the grocery tax? We are one of 13 states with a grocery tax. That would help every Alabamaian.”

Burdette believes his business experience would prove valuable to the office of governor.

“I’m bringing common sense business experience that I started learning when I was young working in my dad’s small town grocery store in Roanoke,” Burdette said. “I was so little I could take groceries off the counters and put them in the sack but the big boys would have to take them out because I was too small.

“Just watching my father use common sense business principles, running his business, running his store, I know that helped me be successful at Books-A-Million, working my way up to being chief operating officer. I know big business and how to manage a big team with a multi-million dollar budget. Running this state is big business right?”

In addition to bringing business sense to the office of governor, Burdette said he wants to change the image of the political machine in Montgomery and started his campaign in January following what he is preaching — limiting campaign contributions.

“We have to stop the corruption,” Burdette said.”We have a legalized payoff system. I put a stake in the ground on day one that we were going to limit our campaign contributions because Alabama is the fourth most politically corrupt state in America. We are one of only five states that allows unlimited campaign contributions. We have millions of dollars flowing into Montgomery, buying favor and influence. I’m just not going to be a part of that. I’m not bought and paid for.”

– Lew Burdette

Ivey currently leads in available polls with other Republican candidates Burdette, Linda Blanchard and Tim James fighting it out for second, third and fourth. All will see their names on the Republican primary ballot May 24.