Three weeks ago my life was settled and sweet - a good job, a wonderful wife, great kids and Lisa and I were headed to Washington for a surprise 80th birthday for her dad. If you had told me that Thursday morning three weeks ago that I would be standing here kicking off a campaign for Congress, I would have thought you were crazy.
But three weeks ago today Bud Cramer announced his retirement and we in North Alabama have found ourselves losing a most effective Congressman whom the people of North Alabama have elected nine times. I have great respect for Congressman Cramer as a public servant and as a one time political foe. He has served his community and country with dignity and respect. He has worked hard for us and I can tell you from personal experience he was a tireless and skilled campaigner. I sincerely thank him for all he has done for our community.
So today we begin the next chapter for North Alabama and our representation in the United States Congress. 1990 was the last time this seat was open and prior to 1990 it was 1976. We tend to send our representatives to Washington for long spells when we think they are doing a good job and representing our values.
After family reflection, thought and prayer, Lisa and I, my family and I, have decided to get into this race to serve. To give back. To be a part of making this a better country for our children and their children that follow them.
I stand here as a small businessman, a coach, a husband and as a dad - humbled to have this opportunity to serve, but also excited about fighting for what I believe is the greatest community in the greatest nation on earth.
I stand here because I believe that good people can still make a difference. That is what called me to public life over a decade ago, and that is what calls me to announce my candidacy today. I want to make a difference for good in our community and our country.
The task before whomever we send to Washington as our next Congressman is enormous. The dialogue and tone in our nation's capitol has become, in a word, toxic. People all across America are fearful about sinking housing prices and rising gasoline costs. People are concerned about securing our boarders and the war in Iraq. So it seems to me that those elected to serve the people of this country must find a way to address these and other issues with a sense of civility. Politicians must never forget that they are public servants.
2008 will bring a new President to Washington and dozens of retirements will bring new life to Congress. What we do with this opportunity is important for the day at hand and for the years to come. I'm hopeful that we can reinvigorate a passion to serve.
I want to be a part of the next revolution in American Politics.... not a Republican Revolution or a Democrat Revolution, but a revolution thats put the American people first.
I want to be a part of solving the immigration problem ... of making our boarders secure and protecting American jobs for our citizens and for those here legally.
I want to be a part of making sure Americans don't have to live dependent upon foreign oil and wondering how high gas prices will go.
I want to be a part of keeping our country strong so the people of this great nation can continue to enjoy the liberties given to us at such great cost to others. We must make sure our nation is safe in a hostile world. And the way to do so is by maintaining a strong military.
I want to be a part of making sure America remains the world leader in space and space technology. We have a talent pool of great and innovative minds in North Alabama. Minds that have discovered so many things that make our lives better and our nation safer.
I do not want to leave my children or your children burdened with a national debt of overwhelming proportions because those who went before them refused to address in a good and honest way tough issues.
You have my commitment to work to make the most of the opportunity at hand. You have my commitment to look for ways to overcome the barriers that seem to divide so many in our nation's capitol. You have my commitment to serve.
I ask you to join me, to join our campaign, and to help change the way Washington thinks and acts. I ask you to join us because this cannot be done in a vacuum. It will take people, lots of people; people with time, people with energy, people who pray, people with talents and yes, ... even people with money.
The outpouring of support we have received over the last three weeks has been overwhelming. Lisa and I have been deeply touched by so many of you who have jumped into this campaign. We have been focused on laying the groundwork for victory in November.
Today we launch the campaign.
Folks ... I'm Wayne Parker, this is my family, and together, we're running for Congress.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless this country and the great state of Alabama.