Republican candidates for House seat tackle economic development

Published 3:00 am Sunday, May 6, 2018

Economic development is one of the issues both candidates in the Republican race to represent District 89 in the Alabama House of Representatives have keyed on, but they have proposed tackling it in different ways.

Marcus Paramore, president of the Troy City Council, has emphasized recruitment of big employers such as those the City of Troy has brought in over recent months while Wes Allen, probate judge, has focused on reducing red tape that holds back business owners.

Paramore said economic development was the reason he first ran for political office and remains his top priority.

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“From day one when I decided to run for the city council in 2012, my number one priority then was the same as it is today – economic development and job growth,” Paramore said. “I’ve always felt there was a need for more high-quality paying jobs in our area and not just retail minimum wage paying jobs. It has always been my goal and we’re starting to see some success in that realm. I thought it was time with the retirement of Rep. Alan Boothe to take the same message to Montgomery as I’ve taken to city hall.”

Allen said he has seen firsthand in the probate office how regulations can become burdensome on business owners.

“One thing I will pay close attention to that I’ve noticed over years doing car tags and selling titles is the amount of authority given to unelected bureaucrats in Montgomery,” Allen said. “They don’t ask us sometimes what we think is best … The state government is broken. There’s a lack of communication between agencies and lawmakers are not communicating back with local officials. One thing we are going to concentrate on is reducing red tape. Those are the things people need to start a business and go out and be successful.”

Paramore said jobs are the key to solving some of the state’s other big issues such as Medicaid spending and prison overcrowding.

“Providing people with good quality job solves a lot of the Medicaid issues,” Paramore said. “It solves some of the prison issues. A lot of people go to (crime) looking to find a way to provide. Drug users aren’t in jail, the dealers are in jail. If they can get a good job, they’re less likely to get into that.”

Allen said the removal of red tape will create a climate for economic development in the state.

“I was speaking with the dad of a 22-year-old son that was going to start a business in Alabama but it was too much for him,” Allen said. “He just gave up. We have to make sure we have good policy in place to make it easier on individuals if they want to go start a new job.”

Paramore said he has been a part of recruiting industries to Troy and Pike County during his time on the council that include Conecuh Ridge Distillery, Kimber Manufacturing and Rex Lumber, giving him experience working with the state on economic development.

“Since I took office, we’ve become one of the top 25 fastest growing cities in Alabama; I want to make us one of the top 10,” Paramore said. “We brought in over 400 jobs in the city limits last year and over 500 in the county.”

Allen said he understands the importance of economic development although his position at probate judge has not included recruiting businesses.

“I think that’s a positive thing,” Allen said. “I’m going to bring a local-level approach. I’m dealing with people every day, seeing concerns every day. I’m going to bring fresh approach to the State house … Many politicians are out of touch with the everyday hardworking taxpayer that walks in the courthouse.

Paramore and Allen will square off in the Republican primary on June 5. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The winner of the primary will face Democratic nominee Joel Lee Williams.