Stephen Carr considered joining the Republican field of candidates in House District 104 when former state Rep. Jim Barton announced his resignation in September. But with divisive rhetoric in both the District 1 congressional race and in proposed bylaws changes among state party leadership, Carr decided to give voters a choice after the runoff election between Susan Hightower and Margie Wilcox Dec. 10.

“I’m very aware of the partisanship of state politics right now,” Carr said. “But the majority party can’t seem to agree on very basic issues. I feel in District 104, more people are in the middle of the road when it comes to politics than on the extreme right or left, and by running as a Democrat I represent those people wanting to negotiate with all parties for the best solutions.”

Carr, a disabled Army veteran who has been administering federal emergency relief programs since Hurricane Katrina, said the supermajority in the state legislature also wields too much power and he’s concerned about checks and balances.

“The Alabama Accountability Act is a good example of that. They basically took $40 million from the state’s General Fund for what amounts to a school voucher program,” he said. “It went through so quickly because no one questioned it.”

Carr said he was born and raised in Mobile and except for an eight-year stint in the Army, has lived in Mobile County his entire life. He is a graduate of Baker High School and holds a graduate degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from the University of Mobile. He is married and has two daughters.

In 2005 he was tapped by Gov. Haley Barbour to administer Katrina Aid Today in Mississippi and when the funding ran out in 2008, he organized opponents against the presence of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers. Since 2011, he has worked in Gov. Bentley’s Office of Faith Based and Community Services helping tornado victims navigate insurance claims, relocation services and FEMA processes.

“Having worked in politics from an appointee standpoint and having to negotiate contracts between FEMA and bipartisan groups, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of experience sitting at the table and hammering out details about how things are going to be run,” he said. “It’s experience I hope to capitalize on in legislature.”

Working with so many needy people after disasters also made Carr more aware of income disparity and as a legislator, he thinks he’ll be in a better position to advocate against poverty.

“I feel like there are a lot of people like me who are not ultra rich that are not represented,” he said. “It seems like the ones that win elections are the ones who have the most money and support from special interests. A main concern of mine is the high percentage of people who work in the service sector for low wages and often no benefits and a manufacturing sector that is not as viable as it used to be. We’ve got large corporations locating here and we give them lots of incentives, but what is the return on investment in terms of hiring? Are we holding them to their word?”

In the same vein, Carr said he would prioritize the repeal of Alabama’s grocery tax and advocate for veteran’s issues. Carr said he just crossed the $1,000 mark in fundraising for his campaign, which has mainly been driven by the support of friends and family, but also announced an endorsement from the Alabama Young Democrats this week. The general election in House District 104 is scheduled Jan. 28.

“There have been a lot of these elections lately where well-funded candidate win with little or no opposition,” Carr said. “I felt I need to run to represent those who’ve been left without a choice in the last several years. My family has had to work hard for living and I’m trying to represent people who are not in the elite category and who are working everyday to keep what they have.”

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