By Paul Gattis
Charlie Holley portrayed himself today as a Democratic Congressional candidate not locked into party politics.
That's what makes him different from Republican incumbent Mo Brooks in the race for the 5th Congressional seat representing North Alabama.
In a lunchtime speech to the Democratic Women of Madison County, Holley said he could work with Republicans as well as Democrats to make a difference in Washington.
"I will reach across party lines and I will do something to keep jobs and to expand jobs, education and infrastructure so that everyone has food to eat - even Republicans," Holley said.
A political newcomer who grew up on a farm in Limestone County and now lives in Madison, Holley also attacked what he described Brooks' inaction during his first term in Congress. Holley said Brooks has made enemies of "every single Democrat in the House."
"That's why he's sponsored only three bills and none of them have made it out of committee," Holley said. "You have to get along in order to do something for your district. That's why nothing has been done in nearly two years. It would be a tremendous tragedy to re-hire my opponent."
While none of the three bills Brooks has sponsored have made it out of committee, he had two amendments to bills that were approved by the House.
Holley said he also has a background that has uniquely prepared him not only to represent the varied interests of North Alabama but also to work with others in Congress for the betterment of his district.
The youngest of 10 children - "My mother and father loved one another, yes they did" - Holley said the family was "extremely poor" and joked that their idea of a health care package consisted of rubbing alcohol and castor oil.
"I know what it's like to choose between food and medicine," Holley said.
"That's why I support the health care package. That's why I support Obamacare - because he does care. Even though it may not be perfect, it's still better than going with the old system of relying on for-profit insurance companies to decide who got covered and who didn't."
Holley called himself a "computer geek" while working in technology for Intergraph and, for the last 16 years, Huntsville Hospital.
He also told the audience about the sudden death of his 13-year-old son Torrell 11 years ago. He was playing basketball at Liberty Middle School when he suddenly collapsed of a heart attack.
"That was the deepest, darkest moment of our lives," Holley said, referring to his wife Cassandra, who attended the speech.
As for doing his part to break the Congressional gridlock, Holley cited his experience as an associate minister at Union Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.
"Ministerial and counseling training helps me to connect with individuals," he said. "I understand your needs, concerns and cares. There is nothing worse than to have a representative who cannot just hear you.
"I will work across the aisle. I will work with anybody who wants to work. I will respect people, even though I may disagree with them. I will acknowledge good idea, even though it may come from the other side. I will not blame everything that's wrong on the other side."