Recently, as I sat in the Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful office and listened while Danny Crawford told me his story, I was reminded once again that anything is possible in the United States of America. “We grew up very poor,” he said, “and my parents were farm laborers.” By poor, he means that one of the places they lived had slats in the floors wide enough to see the feathers of the chickens when they ran under the house. The whole family picked cotton, and they did a lot of hunting. The live stuff went to feed the family, and the road kill helped feed the dogs. “I never did develop much of a taste for possum,” Danny said dryly.
“A dollar was precious,” he said, and that has been his philosophy as a lifelong conservative. His parents had an 8th grade education, and for him, “college was only a dream.”
It was when the Crawford family lived in Belle Mina and Danny was attending Tanner High that his first big break came by way of being a hard worker. The family was working at the Auburn University Research Farm, and Danny made a pittance by “scouting” cotton, (looking for insects), and little did he know that soon he would literally live in a pig barn at Auburn University. The officials at the Belle Mina farm saw potential in Danny, took a liking to him, and he got into Auburn. He got his degree in Agriculture, and went on to get his Master’s degree as well. “I lived in the pig barn, for free, and worked 20 hours a week,” he said, and it seemed he was none the worse for it. He also served in the Army and had the rank of Specialist.
He married Mary Kay Dean, and through Sav-a-Life they adopted one son, Matthew. Matthew felt a calling to be a Baptist youth pastor, and on the way home from camp in Mississippi was in a single car accident, leaving him severely disabled. He lives with his parents, and Danny spent some time telling me how much the support of our community has meant to Mary Kay and him as they have both dealt with and grown personally through this tragedy. He told me that one of the good things that came out of it was an “appreciation for life, and an increased desire to serve.”
Danny worked as an Extension Agent right out of school, and then for 25 years was the Director of the Farm Service Agency of Limestone County. Then, he told me, “In 2001, I was nominated during the Bush Administration to head up the Farm Service Agency for the State of Alabama.” He served with the USDA in Montgomery. He also sat on the Athens City Council for 3 terms, with the intention of “making it better.”
He wants to take that same commitment to “make things better” to Montgomery, which, he is first to admit, is in trouble, especially in the area of financial management. I asked him, as I always do, “Why should I vote for you?”
Here are his answers:
“I have the experience. I have had to lead, and help to develop the skills of other people. I have had to get people to work together, and I believe in the statement, ‘Take all the blame, and none of the credit.’”
“I was in a position where I had to not only see problems, and anybody can do that, but to come up with solutions. I am a good listener, and am open minded, respecting others’ viewpoints, but I have always been a Conservative, am for smaller government, and I know the value of a dollar.”
If he is elected, he wants to find out where money is being wasted. In the past, he had to re-organize the way his agency was doing business, implement budget cuts, and be careful to find ways to not cut services. “One of the things I want to do is implement the use of technology as much as possible to save money,” he said. He then added, “I can make a difference. Almost all problems in Montgomery fall in the area of the General fund. I have found that you can save the most with middle management.”
As the District 5 State House Representative, Danny has the personal goal of “being the most informed before voting,” and then he taught me a phrase that I had never heard and made me laugh “If you’re wrong, you’ve got to lick your calf over,” (meaning don’t distance yourself from your mistakes), “and if you tell the truth, people give you a chance.”
If this sounds like the kind of leadership for which you are looking in our State House, then Danny Crawford would appreciate your vote in the Special Election on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner