The Justice and Civil Rights Initiative partnered with College Republicans and JSU College Democrats to hold a debate between the State Senate candidates Del Marsh and Taylor Stewart on October 29, 2014 at the Lela Sarrell Learning Center at Wallace Hall.
The debate gathered a crowd of an estimated 250 people that overflowed into the hallway and lobby of the building, with a promise of having some of their key questions answered regarding each candidate’s campaign and strategies.
Republican Senator Del Marsh and Democrat Taylor Stewart shared their opinions and beliefs about their current government and visions for the future of the government in Alabama in the hour-long debate at Jacksonville State University.
The topics discussed ranged from raising the minimum wage to education funding in Alabama public schools.
Stewart’s ideas of raising the minimum wage were met with remarks from Marsh regarding where that money would come from. Marsh argued that by raising the minimum wage, companies would not be able to keep as many employees.
“We can’t start raising the minimum wage and then find at the end of the day that they lose those jobs,” Marsh said.
Stewart said that the more money made by employees, the more those employees could afford to spend and give back into the economy, which in turn would create more money for companies to pay their employees.
Another major issue discussed was the education fund and problems within the education system, namely the Accountability Act, a major conversation starter in the campaign this year.
Stewart said this act has cost the state’s public schools $40 million, and claimed that much of that money went into scholarship-granting organizations run by Marsh’s cohorts. Marsh has been open about his plans to expand the program even more, thereby taking more money from the public school’s funding.
“Who knows, it might be $100 million next year,” Stewart suggested as a possible cost of the act to the education fund.
Stewart accused Marsh of a lack of sincere concern for our students, teachers and schools. Stewart said that the district wanted and needed a leader who cares about the area’s public schools, and about proper funding for public schools more than scholarship funds run by their friends.
While the debate showcased the major differences in the beliefs of the two candidates, both candidates agreed upon the reform of the Alabama Constitution of 1901, the longest state constitution in the nation.
Marsh founded the Constitutional Revision Commission, a commission that planned to make many detailed changes to the state constitution. Most of these changes have not been put into effect.
After Tuesday’s elections, Marsh came out of the race victorious, beginning his fifth consecutive term in office.