People of Etowah – Craig Ford

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Photo: Craig Ford is pictured here with his wife, Gwen, and their children. (Submitted photo) 

Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Gadsden. I grew up in East Gadsden, three blocks from Gadsden State Community College. I was born at the old Baptist Hospital which is now Gadsden Regional Medical Center.

What is your occupation?
I own and operate Ford Insurance Agency and The New Messenger newspaper. I am an officer in the Alabama National Guard.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about your job?
My favorite thing is meeting people and helping people solve their insurance needs. For the newspaper, printing good news about others. My least favorite thing is I am often tied down to a desk. I love to get out and see people.

What made you decide to run for your position?
My father, the late Joe Ford, served in the Alabama House of Representatives for 24 years. I saw the difference he made in the lives of people, particularly in education. I wanted to follow him and help others, particularly those in the city that I grew up in and love.

Tell us about your family and pets.
My wife Gwen and I have been married 29 years. She is an educator who started in K-12 in elementary education and is now is a professor at Gadsden State. Gwen is the brains and the rock of our family. She is a caring and giving person who loves the Lord. Our son Jonathan works remote with a private equity firm and travels a good bit. He graduated from Auburn University with a major in accounting and a master’s in accounting from Mississippi State. He is engaged to Ms. Erin Halstead from Iowa. She graduated from Emory in Atlanta, Ga., and is a Registered Nurse. She is currently attending CRNA school at Samford University. Our daughter Wells Elizabeth is a travel nurse and works at Gadsden Regional Medical Center. She received her nursing degree from Auburn University and plans to attend CRNA school soon. She is married to 1st Lt. Alex Dhionis, who is an officer in the regular army. Five days after they got married, he was deployed to Germany for the Ukrainian conflict. I also have two dogs, Dollar and Volley.

What school or schools have you attended?
My father said I was an ambassador to a lot of schools because I went to so many. I graduated from Westminster (now Westbrook Christian) School. I attended Gadsden State Junior College, Samford University (football) and graduated from Auburn University. I have been to multiple military schools for my position in the army.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Anything outdoors. I love Noccalula Falls and walking the trails. I love all sports and love playing them. But most of all, I love spending time with my family. We are extremely close and enjoy being together.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
During the 18 years that I served in the state legislature, I was able to secure 30 million dollars to keep Gadsden’s Goodyear plant open and running in 2005. I passed a bill for the Alabama School for Deaf and Blind to make American Sign Language a foreign language so that the students would be able to receive an advanced degree. I also passed a bill for protection of adopted parents for someone I met in the halls of the capital to help them keep their children. I passed a bill to secure $537 million dollars to save the PACT program so the families that had purchased these contracts would be honored by the state of Alabama. All these actions were teams efforts, but I took the lead in getting them accomplished.

From where do you draw wisdom or inspiration?
God, first and foremost. I would also say some of my previous pastors/friends, especially Eddie Nichols from Breakaway Ministries, Larry Furhman, Mark Price and Kyle Cantrell. Gwen does a great job at keeping me grounded and is often a voice of reason for me.

Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life, and why?
There are two big influencers in my life in Eddie Nichols and Larry Furhman. Eddie was there when I was a young child and my parents divorced. He mentored me and gave me hope. Larry was there during my high school years and taught me about being a man and having fun at the same time. He also performed the marriage ceremony for me and Gwen. Eddie was a groomsman.

To what do you credit your success?
God, family and my employees. The military has also played an important role in structuring my career by teaching me leadership, discipline, organizational skills and service.

What is your favorite thing about this community?
The natural resources and the people. We have so many natural resources that need attention and to be developed. The people here are resilient and are ready for growth. Also, you will not meet a more giving community.

What would you like to see change in the community?
High paying jobs, first and foremost. I would also love to see state-of-the-art, new educational facilities for K-12, including the career tech school. The same school buildings have been here for over 70 years. I also would love to improve the quality of life by developing our river and investing more in all areas of Gadsden.

What are your goals for the City of Gadsden and what existing areas would you strengthen?
This list is not all inclusive because I have numerous goals for the City of Gadsden. For detailed information, please visit CraigFordForMayor.com. Some of the goals include:

* Get the city on track financially, which includes making the city run more effectively and efficiently.
* Work with the Civil Service Board to get fire and police salaries increased, as well as getting city employees raised to a higher standard.
* Collaborate with the Gadsden City Board of Education to determine its needs, as well as work to increase school safety by having one School Resource Officer in each city school on a full-time basis.
* Work with the city council to determine the needs in each community.
* Repair and maintain roads and correct drainage issues.
* Recruit high-paying industry, which is appropriate to this area.
* Bring the airport up to par so that it can be used as a viable recruiting tool.
* Create a city-wide strategic plan that is all inclusive.

I would love to strengthen the relationships with Gadsden City Schools, the city council members and the community as a whole, as well as Gadsden State and Jacksonville State University. I feel each of these above-mentioned relationships play an integral role in the success of our city.

What is something surprising that many do not know about you?
I used to race at the dirt track at Green Valley Speedway.

What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I also like the saying from the movie Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

What is on your bucket list?
I would love to coach my grandchildren in sports. I also desire to leave a legacy for my grandchildren.

What advice would you give yourself as a child?
I would tell my younger self that everything happens for a reason and everything happens in God’s time. We all know that both successes and failures develop character, but as a child, failure can be devastating. I would tell myself to learn from mistakes and allow those mistakes to make you resilient. The last piece of advice I would give myself is to remember God is in control, so failure now may lead to greater success later. It is a matter of being patient and believing in His plan.

What would you like to tell your constituents?
I am willing to work for you, and with you, to serve our community. I strongly feel we can change the future of Gadsden in a positive way. I have the ideas and the connections, and I am developing the resources to move our city forward. I will be accessible and listen to your ideas. No one will work harder to restore pride in our city than I will.

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