Local Democrats introduce U.S. Senate candidate Boyd to crowd

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Jul. 15—The East Alabama Democratic Women's Luncheon got a little rowdy in Classic on Noble, as a special guest speaker fired up the crowd.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Will Boyd met with a passionate group of around 50, mainly women, in the downtown restaurant Thursday for their monthly get-together. He's the November general election opponent for Republican Katie Britt.

"We have a lot to do," the Hoover native said.

The room was filled with applause and supporting "woops" from listeners as Boyd laid out the foundation of his campaign. Boyd won the Democratic nomination with more than 64 percent of the vote against two primary opponents.

Boyd spoke of masks, and the importance of mental health care. He spoke of rural areas of Alabama closing hospitals and folks being in dire need of health care facilities. He spoke of parts of Alabama looking like "a third world country" in some areas, without access to safe drinking water. And perhaps the heaviest topic, Boyd spoke of women's rights.

"Hear me and believe when I tell you today, when I go to Washington, I am fighting to make sure that your rights do not get taken away," Boyd said.

Boyd is a minister, educator and businessman. His views differ from Britt.

"As a Christian, wife and mother, I am 100%, unapologetically pro-life because of my faith and deeply-held family values," Britt stated as her stance on abortion on her campaign website. "Every life is a sacred gift from God, and I am passionately committed to protecting the unborn."

Several other political candidates were also in attendance Thursday, including Alabama House candidate Pam Howard. During her speech to the group, Howard said she is approached regularly from both Republican and Democratic women who are scared their reproductive rights will be taken away.

Howard called the group a "passionate crowd" of women who were "invested" and "progressive." She said it was more than just Democratic women, but women who were "fed up."

"A lot of Republican women are scared that our rights are being taken away," Howard said.

The women's luncheon began as a place to bring like minded individuals together to express their ideas and views in a safe space, Howard said.

"As I talked to different people, they would be surprised that there were other people locally with the same thoughts. There has been such a strong message that this is a Republican area," Howard said.

The group started meeting monthly in February with about 25 women and has grown every month.

"It's just a place for people to talk about what's going on without rhetoric and without it being a news show or anything like that," Howard said.

"People get to share their ideas and their frustrations, and I have gotten nothing but very positive feedback about feeling empowered about the fact that there are like minded people who get together, share their ideas, share their fears and it's just grown and grown and grown," Howard continued.

For others, like Sheila Gilbert, the group is more than just a place to share ideas and swap stories. It's also the epicenter of bringing in new supporters and even political candidates for the area.

"We're the springboard of what's going to happen in this entire district," Gilbert said. "We're thrilled with what Calhoun is doing. We're on a really good roll."

The group is constantly pulling in new people who want to get involved, Gilbert said. That idea was apparent Thursday with several different political candidates in addition to Boyd in attendance.

"It's a really good way to get a lot of new people involved," Gilbert said.