To hear her tell it, businesswoman Susan Hightower had political aspirations of her own well before she helped her husband Bill run a successful campaign for state Senate last year, but obligations at work and home would have left her with little time to legislate. But after the last of the Hightower’s three children flew the coup in June and State Rep. Jim Barton suddenly resigned in August, an unexpected opportunity opened up in her home district that she couldn’t ignore.
“We just took our baby (son Benjamin) to the Air Force Academy in June so we have an empty nest,” she said. “Barton resigned, this opportunity came up and I looked at the field of candidates and decided I have a lot to offer and should join the race.”
Susan Hightower is the owner of children’s boutique Little Monkey Toes in Mobile and Gulf Shores, which has a separate online component and Wee-Exchange, a seasonal consignment sale that specializes in children’s clothing, toys and accessories. She employs about 20 people. She is also an associate real estate broker with Roberts Brothers.
She said she has “deep roots” in District 104 where she was born and raised, graduating from the former Mobile County High School, the same school her parents attended. Campaigning for her husband last year and more recently for mayoral candidate Sandy Stimpson, Hightower said she has already knocked on hundreds of doors and feels familiar with the issues important to the district.
“I’m absolutely pro-business and business friendly and not for introducing regulations we don’t need. We just need to run our businesses,” she said. “I’m also interested in Skyline area. With the Cosco proposal it would be nice to get the Highway 90 and Government area cleaned up to attract other business.”
Hightower also described herself as “unwaveringly pro-life” and said she occasionally provided volunteer counseling at the Women’s Resource Center.
“I know how to meet a payroll, I know how to balance a budget and pay bills and not spend money when I don’t have it and I know how to get rid of people when I don’t need them,” she said. “I also think we need more conservative women in the Alabama legislature. I looked and saw out of 140 legislators, five are Republican women.”
Another female businesswoman, Margie Wilcox, is running in the race under a similar platform, but Hightower said she didn’t know Wilcox well enough personally to differentiate between them at this time.
“I believe I am a strong candidate and voters are going to have to look into both of our bios and make that decision for themselves,” she said.
Meanwhile, she downplayed the novelty of a husband and wife “team” in the statehouse, saying family ties in Alabama politics aren’t unusual, while providing examples of husbands and wives simultaneously serving in public offices elsewhere.
“We’ll live under the same roof but work in different houses,” she said. “There might be some perks like getting to see each other every day and commuting in the same car but I’m running on what I have to offer and I’m going to make decisions based on what I feel and believe.”
LINK: Susan Hightower for State Representative
Besides Hightower and Wilcox, the Alabama GOP also qualified Nathan Davis, Charlie Plyler and Ralph Carmichael as candidates for the special primary election Tuesday, Oct. 15. If necessary, a special primary runoff election will be held Tuesday, Dec. 3. If not, the general election will be Dec. 10.