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Neighbors aims to 'change the conversation' in Washington

Rick Neighbors admits his first run at political office was a learning experience. He hopes the second time around will bring a different result.

Neighbors, a Hackleburg resident, recently announced his candidacy for United States Congress in the Fourth Congressional District. That seat has been held by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) the past 20 years.

Neighbors ran for Congress in 2012. He faced Daniel Boman in the Democratic primary and lost a close race. Boman received 51.4 percent of the primary vote (10,969 votes) to Neighbors’ 48.6 percent (10,353 votes).

So far, Neighbors is the only Democrat to declare his candidacy.

“We need a different conversation in Washington if we are to move our nation forward,” Neighbors said. “It’s time to change that conversation from division to a focus on issues we really need to change for the benefit of the country. There’s too much hate—too much meanness these days.”

Neighbors’ first bid at elected office was a trial by fire, he admits. He believes he’s better prepared for his 2018 campaign.

“I’m aware of the stumbling blocks out there, but I know how to campaign now—how to get my message out there,” Neighbors said. “This time I’m well in front and it’s a more thought out process. Do I think I can make a difference? Do I think I can win? The answer to both questions is yes.

“It’s a difficult task in this district to get enough votes to win, but it’s doable, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Neighbors said that while he has nothing against Aderholt personally, he doesn’t believe Aderholt’s leadership is suited to effectively represent the people of the Fourth Congressional District.

“I have no personal qualms about him,” Neighbors said. “But he does not impress me with the ideas and vision of what is needed for this nation, state and district. We need more leadership and stronger representation for the rural areas of this district.”

Neighbors works in management at Pilgrim’s Corporation in Russellville. Most of his adult life has been spent working in the apparel business. In 1979, he took a temporary job in the apparel business that lasted 35 years. He and his wife Judy have three children, five grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.

A sharp critic of United States trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Neighbors has seen the detrimental effect they’ve had on working men and women throughout the Fourth 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,” Neighbors said. “Many of those jobs have disappeared. The rise in gross domestic product shows that wealth is being created. It’s just not trickling down to the folks doing the work. To fully realize the American dream requires jobs at living wages.

“We have learned trade agreements that only benefit corporations and big investors can do great harm to the rest of us. We have learned from the disrupted lives of millions of working Americans that our trade agreements should benefit all people and not just a few.”

While Neighbors believes the Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction for the country, he believes the debate should be more about how we pay for healthcare and not whether it should be provided or who pays.

“We Americans pay for healthcare, whether through the purchase of insurance or in the form of taxes,” he said. “The solution is to find a payment structure that is most economical that provides the best care possible.

“The market approach has not worked. This method has seen annual cost increases that surpass that of any other industry. The market solution is not an answer, because markets don’t exist to make our lives better but to be profitable for their investors. This is why thirty-eight percent of all healthcare cost does not go to hospitals, clinics, equipment, doctors, nurses, technicians or pharmaceuticals, but is ‘lost in the weeds.’”

Both the Democratic and Republican primaries in Alabama will take place on June 5, 2018.

For more information on Neighbors’ campaign and platform, log onto www.rickneighborsforcongress.com.

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