EzDebate is challenging each candidate to answer questions for their constituents. We will be posting the recorded answers so voters can view them.
Robert Brown Aderholt is the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 4th congressional district, serving since 1997. He is a member of the Republican Party.
I was born in Gadsden and have family spread out all across the Eastern half of the district—from Etowah, DeKalb, and some in Marshall County—to the lion share of my immediate family and relatives living in the Weiss Lake area of Cherokee County. I have friends and work family stretching from Guntersville, Boaz, and Arab to Cullman and Decatur. Needless to say, I have a vested interest in the well-being and success of District 4.
I have literally been around the military my entire life. My father retired out of the Air Force after twenty years. My step-father was in the Marine Corps during Vietnam. I have two uncles who served—one in the Army and one in the Navy. My grandfather on my mother's side served in the Navy at Okinawa during WWII. Lastly, I have a cousin who is Active Duty Army in the Special Forces. I myself have worked for the US Military for the last 21 years, in various positions, as a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter Crewchief/Mechanic — 8 of which I was active duty in the Army with a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A few years later, I then spent another 5 years in Iraq working for US State Department as an advisor to the Iraqi Air Force. And currently, I work as a US Army Contractor at the Redstone Test Center in Huntsville. As you can see service is in my blood.
I had spent the first 18 years of my life as an Air Force brat. Growing up in the military was a unique, life-changing experience for me. By the time I was four I was living in a foreign country. I started my school years in Germany and became accustomed to moving around the world every 3 or 4 years. I’d been to Germany, Belgium, and Austria, and to just about every state in the US, to include Alaska, all before I graduated high school. I learned very young that in whatever I did, I was a representative of something or someone. Whether it was my father, the US Air Force, or the United States of America as a whole. My actions and decisions would reflect the image that others had of my family, my father’s employer, or my native soil. What I did mattered. The choices I made had consequences, good and bad.
My family comes from very humble beginnings. My mother grew up in the housing projects of East Gadsden and my father’s family were farmers. Both struggled for everything they had, but they were determined to provide a better childhood for me. That doesn’t mean we never fell on hard times. For those of you that don’t know, the paycheck of a junior enlisted person in the military keeps you just above the poverty line. Through it all though, my parents instilled in me respect for my fellow man, to be kind to anyone I met, never to forget that there is always someone worse off than you, and to give the shirt off of your back if there is a person who needs it more. These are the same principles that my wife and I try to pass on to both of our children. We believe family is the bedrock of a healthy society.
I want to share a very short personal story with you just for a brief second. First, and foremost, I am not a politician. I'm not running for office looking to put another feather in my hat. To be honest, I've done enough in my life to where I feel like I've left a mark on the world. I'm a decorated combat veteran, a husband to a loving wife, and a father to two wonderful children. I could live out the rest of my days content with where I'm at in life. I'm definitely not looking for fame or fortune. I've learned, after years of being away from my family and watching my son grow up in pictures, that money truly doesn't buy you happiness.
No, the reason I stand before you today is because of my dedication to serve God in any fashion that He sees fit for me to glorify Him. This calling that has been placed upon me is not something that I necessarily want, but I am willing to throw myself into the viper pit of Washington DC if that is where the Almighty wants me to be. You see, I am not only willing to be a servant of the people, I long to be an obedient servant to God. And I firmly believe that if God brings me to it, He will bring me through it. If I am elected, that means God intends to use me on Capitol Hill to bring glory and honor back to the office of the People. If not, then God has another purpose for me, and I'm ok with that.
Some folks have asked why I am running for Congress. The answer is simple, really. I've been given a vision for District 4 and America as a whole. I want to be part of a return to a successful Nation run by its citizens. A country that is proud and not ashamed to show it. A return to a government restrained and limited by the Constitution. A return to privacy, opportunity, and Liberty. Too often, when Republicans have won, we've squandered away our victory by becoming part of the Washington machine. That's not who I am.
Since I'm baring my soul to you today, let me share something else. My Mom and Stepfather are true-blue die-hard Democrats. They voted for Obama and his Liberal policies for the last eight years. Needless to say, we have some colorful conversations regarding politics. I'm quick to stand my ground on the principles I believe in. I'm loving. I'm respectful. But, I know when to dig my heels in. I can tell you this, if I'm willing to stand up to my own family, I'll be more than ready to stand up to the bullies in Washington DC—and I'm not just talking about the Democrats either.
Listen, it's time to end this repetitive cycle of insanity. It's time bring a fresh set of eyes to the issues that plague our communities. It's time to clean up our own party. It’s time to help President Trump Drain the Swamp. It is past time for the American people to be given back the reins of power from Washington DC and begin to govern their representatives again. I am the person who will make that happen.
I want to leave you with this final thought from James Madison,
“The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.”
Phil Norris, a candidate for the 4th Congressional District of Alabama, has held a variety of positions in a diverse career that began with his entrance into the US Navy’s Nuclear Power Training Program in 1979. This training catapulted Phil into an exciting and unique career in the US Navy Nuclear Submarine Program, where he served as a Reactor Plant Supervisor and Diving Officer on 5 different submarines during the Cold War. He also served as a Technical Recruiter for Navy Engineering Programs for almost four years, where he received a Navy Achievement Medal from the Chief of Naval Operations for his success in this program.
Following Phil’s retirement from the Navy, he began his civilian career with Life Cycle Engineering in Charleston, SC, where he was a Technical Writer that assisted in the development of a complex computer system for US Navy Propulsion Systems. Next came a stint with Oak Ridge Research Institute, where Phil worked as a Senior Health Physics Technologist responsible for the characterization, storage, and transport of special nuclear material at the Department of Energy’s Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Facility.
In 1996, Phil joined the staff of UniTech Services Group, Inc. (formerly Interstate Nuclear Services), a Nuclear Services Company in Columbia, SC. There he served as the Health Physics Manager for a large industrial complex. He later transferred to their Macon, GA facility where he was promoted to Assistant Plant Manager, and eventually, Plant Manager. In this role, he supervised a production staff of 80 employees. In 2001, his facility was selected as the Plant of the Year and in 2002, his facility was selected as the Best Health Physics Program in the UniTech Services Corporation.
In 2004, Phil decided to make a career change to the Financial Services industry and he joined the Macon, GA office of Smith Barney as a Financial Advisor. In late 2006, Phil was offered a management position with the firm and transferred to the Hattiesburg, MS Branch where he served as a Vice President and Operations Manager, supervising an office staff of 15 advisors and assistants, and presiding over almost 500 million dollars in invested assets.
Following the creation of the joint venture between Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley in 2009, Phil’s position was eliminated due to the restructuring of Smith Barney. He then accepted a position as a Chief Executive Officer with Keller Williams New Beginnings Realty in Jackson, MS. There, he served as Team Leader for a 56 agent staff of Realtors.
In January 2010, Phil became an independent Financial Services Representative, associating with Allstate Financial Services in the Birmingham area. He served various Allstate offices in the Birmingham area as an Exclusive Financial Specialist.
Feeling the call to return to his roots in the nuclear industry, Phil accepted a position with Denuke Nuclear Contracting in July of 2010, where he served as a Senior Health Physics Technologist at Los Alamos National Labs in Los Alamos, NM. Phil worked in this capacity to remediate nuclear and chemical waste associated with the original Manhattan Project that successfully developed the world’s first nuclear weapon.
Phil continues to work as an independent nuclear contractor, involved in nuclear projects all across the country. Recently, he has worked refueling outages at Kewaunee Nuclear Station in Kewaunee, WI and Surry Nuclear Station in southeast Virginia. Most recently, Phil worked as a Senior Health Physics Technologist and Radiological Engineer with Cabrera Services, Inc. at the Shallow Land Disposal Area (SLDA) near Pittsburgh, PA. At SLDA, a nuclear and chemical waste site, Phil directed radiation safety operations in the trench areas and developed several complex technical procedures. One of his technical papers was published at the International Waste Management Symposium 2012 in Phoenix, AZ.
Phil’s community service resume is as diverse and colorful as his professional resume. During his Navy Career, Phil led a team of volunteers to develop and maintain collaborative partnerships with local schools and charitable organizations in the Charleston, SC area. His school partnerships were recognized on the national level for being model programs. Phil has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Macon Georgia Community Tennis Association, where he spear-headed the production of a promotional DVD that highlighted the association’s contribution to the quality of life of Macon, GA residents. He has served as the President of the Macon Toastmasters Club and as a fundraiser for the Macon Volunteer Clinic. In 2006, Phil served as a volunteer football coach for the Central Fellowship Christian Academy in Macon, GA and has served in various coaching roles throughout his entire adult life.
After moving to Mississippi in early 2007, Phil was appointed to serve as the Public Affairs Director (volunteer position) for the Mississippi Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, a civilian auxiliary of the US Air Force. In this role, Phil received National Awards in each year of his service and received an overall “Best Public Affairs Officer” Award at the 2008 National Public Affairs Officer Academy. This award was presented by the Civil Air Patrol National Commander and CNN’s Aerospace Correspondent, Miles O’Brien. He has also published articles in the Civil Air Patrol National Magazine “Volunteer,” and contributed to an article in the “Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine.” During the Gulf Oil Spill response in 2010, Phil represented the Civil Air Patrol as their national Public Information Officer and spokesperson; coordinating several high level media events, including a feature story on the CBS Evening News. Phil currently serves as the Director of Public Affairs for the Civil Air Patrol in the Southeast Region of the United States.
Politically, Phil ran for Alabama's 4th Congressional District in 2016 and the 7th Congressional District in 2012. Phil served as a Delegate to the Georgia State Republican convention throughout the 2000 and 2004 election cycles. He supported several campaigns during his tenure as State Delegate. He has also supported several Congressional and Senatorial campaigns. The highlight of his tenure as a Georgia State delegate was his invitation to a private event with President George W. Bush in the weeks following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Phil ran for the Board of Education in Bibb County Georgia on two occasions.
Phil has completed his MBA studies from California Coast University (with honors), holds a BS Degree in Business Administration from California Coast University (with honors), and an ASBA degree from Limestone College. He also has held various licenses from the Financial Services industry.
Phil attends the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL and has served as a member of the Worship Team in Churches all across the southeastern U.S. He has served on several short term mission trips during his lifetime, including trips to the Slovak Republic and Caracas, Venezuela.
On a personal level, Phil recently published a book about his submarine career during the Cold War, entitled “Family Gram; Memoirs of an American Cold War Submariner.” His book provides a look at the personal side of the submarine community and the triumphs, challenges, failures and achievements of a small town boy from North Alabama. Phil has two adult sons, Scott and Brett Norris, who both live in the Atlanta area.
Born and raised in North Carolina. He joined the Army at age 17 during which he served three tours in Vietnam. He earned his GED while in service and took correspondence courses. After his discharge, encouraged by a small ministerial scholarship from the Southern Baptist Association and with the help of the G.I. Bill, Rick earned a B.A. in Political Science in 1979. Rick returned to school recently earning an MBA from the University of North Alabama and a graduate certification in Project Management.
Rick learned his work ethic from his parents. His father was a share cropper and veteran of WWII and the Korean War. During WWII, his mother made ammunition and afterwards worked “graveyard shifts” in spinning mills.
After graduating in 1979, Rick took a temporary job in the apparel business that lasted thirty-five years. He met his wife, Judy, at the Wrangler plant in Hackleburg, Alabama. They both worked in apparel and traveled frequently following the migration of work. They are grateful for three children, five grandchildren, and three great-granddaughters.
Rick Neighbors has spent most of his adult life in the apparel business and as an international business man and negotiator. He witnessed the effects trade agreements have had on working men and women throughout the district. Not too many years ago, a person without advanced training could earn a middle-class living by becoming skilled at making products with their hands. Many of those jobs have disappeared. The rise in GDP shows that wealth is being created. It is just not trickling down to the folks doing the work. To fully realize the American dream requires jobs at living wages.
Rick knows the future belongs to our children. The future will require things yet to be realized. Our children will be the ones to discover them. Educating our youth is what we can do today to ensure possibilities will exist tomorrow. We need to educate all that wish to learn. The shape of our future depends on all of our children having the freedom to wonder and create and not be hampered by the burden of debt.