With his wife, Pam Lang Shepard, at his left hand and the American flag at his right, Taze Shepard stood before of a portrait of John Sparkman and told the world he intends to be the next Congressman from North Alabama.
Shepard stressed the need for North Alabama's congressman to work with others and to represent the district first in Washington, asserting that he knows how to build relationships and work with people he may not agree with to get the job done. Shepard said the economy is the most important issue in North Alabama, but roads and schools must also rank high on the "to do" list for our next Congressman.
Here is video of the entire press conference. A partial transcript is below the fold.
In addition to what was already known about about Shepard, the press handout today included a few more nuggets of information. He served as:
Chairman of the Governor's Commission on School Violence from 1993-1995
Vice-Chairman of the Alabama Space and Science Exhibit Commission from 1995-2000
Member, Board of Directors of the Huntsville Arts Council from 2000-2002
Member, Board of Directors of the Alabama Supercomputer Authority from 2002-2007
Lecturer, Peoples' Law School.
He is also a member of the local Rotary Club, the National Rifle Association and the First United Methodist Church in Huntsville.
A week ago we managed a brief interview with Taze Shepard and he offered some insight into the type of campaign he will run -- a personal one.
My campaign is going to be built on going out and talking to people. The most surprising thing to me since I've been in this for, basically a week, is when I go talk to the Probate Judge in Jackson County or I go talk to the Sheriff in Limestone County, I am virtually the only person who has come to see them about congressional issues. And I can't imagine running a campaign any other way than connecting with people, not only elected officials, but the elected officials, the party officials and everybody individually who has an interest in their future. So you will see me traveling around the district, not just for media events, but for opportunities to talk to people and listen to them. And if their problems are things that I can help with them in Congress, then I will know, when I go to Washington, exactly where my first priorities need to be.
Today Shepard told me he truly enjoys meeting and talking with new people and his wife Pam is extremely upbeat and easy to talk to. She was all smiles while chatting with the media today despite suffering from a sinus infection -- now that's a tough political spouse! The Shepards strike me as a couple of happy warriors -- a good thing since they're sure to meet a lot of new people in the next few months.
As of this morning, Shepard was the only Democrat to have officially filed qualifying papers although both Mitchell Howie and Steve Raby have indicated they will also run as Democrats. The AL-05 seat is currently held by former Democrat Parker Griffith who is facing significant opposition of his own in the Republican primary.
Partial Transcript of today's press conference, emphasis mine:
My name is Taze Shepard I am delighted to tell you that I have filed my qualifying papers in Montgomery and I am now officially a candidate for the seat in Congress from the 5th district in North Alabama.
The number one topic of our campaign for the Fifth District will be the promotion of economic prosperity and economic growth across North Alabama.
In this time of stagnation and uncertainty in the national economy ... the most important word in our vocabulary has to be "jobs" -- jobs relating to NASA, jobs relating to the Army, jobs relating to TVA ... existing jobs that a congressman can preserve and new jobs tht that congressman should bring to North Alabama.
My family has lived in North Alabama for over 100 years. The values of this district and its importance to our national security are at my core. With your help and support, I will work tirelessly to provide the same kind of leadership the district has enjoyed with other men from North Alabama like Bud Cramer, Ronnie Flippo, Bob Jones and John Sparkman. And like these great men from North Alabama, I can work with Democrats and Republicans to get the results for this district.
Asked why voters should choose him over the rest of the field ...
I understand the political process, I understand what people here need and I'm always willing to learn more. Specifically, I've already been in 5 of the 7 counties and by the end of this week I will have been in every part of this district to talk to local leaders ... anyone who wants to tell me what their concerns and interest are. And I view the congressman as someone who represents their district first in Washington. You can work with the national leaders whether you agree with them or not, because it's about relationships.
You don't have to accept every national program or every national debate in order to say, "We need funding for NASA, we need jobs in the Shoals, we need to fix the roads in Lauderdale county." And that's what I'm committing to and that's what I will do for our district.
Asked about the relevance of his grandfather ...
I don't expect or would not even want anyone to vote for me because of who I am in terms of my famiy heritage, but I want them to undertand that so they can understand me and my outlook. ... I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandfather. I knew him very well and was very proud of him. And I saw how he put helping people ahead of his personal advancement many times. ... If you're more interested in results than in personal fame or achievement, you'll get a lot done.