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November 22, 2023 29 mins
Businessman Girrick Wilkins is challenging sitting Congressmen Gary Palmer in Alabama’s 6th district primary. Wilkins talked about issues facing Alabama and Term limits.
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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is Viewpoint Alabama on the AlabamaRadio Network program where we talk about the
people, the places, and thethings making news across Alabama. I'm your
host this week, John Mounts.Coming up in twenty twenty four, We're
going to see a huge presidential election, but also on your ballot no matter
where you live in Alabama is thecongressman or woman who represents you. And
the next cycle has some serious potentialfor some upsets because of the redistricting.

So you may want to check withthe Secretary of State's website because you may
not be in the same district youwere last time, and you might have
some new names on your ballot.Joining us now in our Viewpoint Alabama Studios
is one of the names who hopesto be on that ballot. Jeric Wilkins.
Jeric, Welcome to view Point Alabama. So I'm happy to be here
this morning with you to talk aboutsome of the issues that are important to
Alabama and why I'm running after twentyfour years in the business community. So

you're hoping to upset the occupant ofthe sixth district, Gary Palmer. Why
are you running? So this startedback in March when Gary came out and
announced that he was going to runa sixth term, even though he had
promised only run five terms. Andat that point I actually got back to
work on a book that I've hadon the back burner for some time on

congressional term limits called Unshackling Democracy,Embracing term Limits, and Empowering Citizens.
And as I was working through thatbook, I realized that our founding father's
true intent was for citizen lawmakers,not career politicians. And as I'm doing
the research and advocating for that,I realized, you know what, I
need to be willing to step upand run myself. And that's where it

started. So at that point,after Gary broke his promise, I started
looking into his record and realized thathe really is not the staunch, staunch
conservative that Alabama has expected, andwe needed to We need someone to come
up and step up and say wedon't want business as usual in Washington anymore.
So when we talk about term limits, your belief is I assume that

you would only runny how many terms? What are you pledging? So I've
committed to run only three terms,and I'm on record in multiple places for
that, including a book that willbe out next month. And more importantly
than that, when I had thisconversation with my wife, she has had
no desire for us to go tod C. So I promised her that
we would be there a maximum ofsix years. So I tell everyone,

not only do I have a commitmentin writing on this, I also have
wife imposed term limits, which aftertwenty four years of marriage, I can
assure you means a lot. Yes, yes, you should listen to her.
The district is a great place tolive, but at the same time,
it's a pretty rough lifestyle and it'svery expensive, no doubt about it.
And you look at going into theswamp. It really is just that.

But we're at a place at ourcountry where we've got to have citizen
lawmakers stand up and say we don'twant the status quo anymore. We need
to prioritize America first. We needto prioritize putting Alabama first. We need
to actually fix some of these problems, including the border, including addressing inflation
that is a direct result of Congressnot doing their jobs. I mean,

it's it's heart wrenching to me tosee that they take an extended break when
we haven't even passed a budget andour solution is another continuing resolution. That's
not right. That's why we haveinflation today. And we've got to have
business leaders and not career politicians toaddress these issues. So you, in
addition to running because of you know, the term limit thing, I assume

you would have, would you bein favor of some sort of a term
and limit amendment to the Constitution oranything like that. Absolutely. I've signed
the term limits Pledge, which advocatesfor three terms in the House and two
terms in the Senate, and I'vealready had many conversations with Congressman Ralph Norman,
who has introduced legislation to that effect. I would sign on to that
immediately because I think it's critical.It's one of the top priorities for me

is getting a term limits amendment ofpast right next to getting a balanced budget
amendment. I think those are twothings that if we did, we'd have
a huge change in how business asusual happens in Washington. Jack. One
of the things that is very important, I think is we have politicians who
understand how it works in the everydayworld that we live in. And you've
been a part of the business communityfor a while. How will that inform

the way you will govern. Ithink it's a big part of it.
I think business leaders understand what it'slike to make a payroll. We know
what it's like to be overburdened withtaxes and regulation. And I look at
some of the regulatory agencies that areunelected bureaucrats making rules that impact every day
Alabamians and everyday Americans, and theyreally don't understand how they're going to impact

it. You look at some ofthe stuff going on right now with the
FTC. They're trying to change howcar buying is done to save people money,
and reality, when you look atit, it's going to end up
costing US billions and make it evenharder to buy a car. But we
don't have people that understand that inCongress because their career. Politicians that don't
have a connection to the people.In fact are incumbent. He hasn't been

in the private sector in almost fourdecades, and he also he did a
lot of work with the Alban PolicyInstitute before going up there, so he's
pretty well plugged in. I guessto a lot of people deeply in the
community, in the political community.So let me turn that on his head.
You not being in that community,how quickly are you going to be
able to work with not just acrossthe aisle, but even people on your

side of the aisle to get thingsdone in Washington. Absolutely, I think
it's important for us to realize thatyou do have to come together as a
party. We've got to realize thatwe stand better when we're together. I've
already started making those connections. I'vebeen in DC twice just in the last
few months, meeting with members ofCongress. I've had briefings at the Heritage
Foundation, and I feel confident thatI'm going to be able to connect with

that. But more importantly, I'mgoing to bring business since to being able
to get stuff done. I've beenprivileged to negotiated one hundred million dollar deals
in the automotive by cell sector,and I know what it's like to reach
across and shake someone's hand to puta deal together. But at the same
time, you've got to realize thatthere are some principles that you have to
be uncompromising on, and I cantell you some of these are going to

be protecting life and making sure thatwe put Alabama values first. So you
are pro life in your platform unequivocallyfrom from conception to natural from conception,
and so you have support legislation thatwould make that a law, at least
in the state of Alabama, becauseit's back to the states. Now,
as I understand the I think thatyou know, the states already have protections
in place, but I would absolutelybe in favor of federal law as well

to protect life because it's so important. I mean, that's where where we
have to protect life. Liberty startsfrom from from all people, including the
unborn, need to be protected.Are you concerned it all? At the
losses the Republican Party took any lastelection cycle. A lot of people say
that those were in large part tothe nation's rejection of the Republican platform on

abortion, and some are saying Republicansshould soften their stance. Do you disagree
with that or you think you knowyou stand for life and you know,
come what may, No, wedon't need to soften our position on that.
I think the losses had more todo with the fact that we continue
putting up establishment based candidates we needor freedom based candidates, those that believe
in limited government, those that aregoing to buy into the Freedom Caucus mantra.

That's where we're seeing success. It'swhen we go back to these the
rhinos and the establishment principles, that'swhen we're seeing the losses come into play.
The American people clearly have supported DonaldTrump. It's clear that we don't
want the status quo to continue asit is. We want an America First
agenda. We want to make surewe can actually secure the border. We

want to get our spending under control, we want to tackle inflation, and
those are the things that are importantto Americans and as a party, that's
what we need to do to getback to where we're at. We're a
limited government party and that's what weneed to focus on. You mentioned Donald
Trump. Have you spoken with theforeign president. We had the privilege of
my wife and I had the privilegeof meeting him in August and at the

Montgomery Dinner. And I'm very,very proud of what he's doing and it's
great to see him continuing the fightmoving forward. So yes, do you
support him over the other Republican presidentialcandidates right now? Yeah? Absolutely,
I have no problem endorsing President Trump. I voted for him in the past.
I'm planning to vote for him again. We need outsiders, not career

politicians, and I think he isdefinitely the best choice to tackle the swamp
and then battle and take us throughthe battle that we're dealing with. Because
there is a battle going on inthis country and it's the establishment versus America,
and we've got to keep that fightup, and that's what Donald Trump
is for. Jerk. Let's turnour attention briefly to international issues and Ukraine,

because we've spent already quite a bitof money in Ukraine and the President
wants more money for Ukraine. What'syour position on spending for Ukraine. We've
got too many problems at home.We need to prioritize the southern border and
we need to stop the spending inUkraine. We've sent them almost one hundred
billion dollars now and we can't evenaccount for it. We don't have a
victory plan in place, and we'vegot a issue at the southern border.

There's an invasion going on and thatneeds to take precedent. We need to
prioritize securing our border Kranes. Andwhen we talk about Ukraine, let's another
country over there overseas is Israel andthe fight that they're in right now.
There's a lot of Republicans who arein favor of funding Israel in their fight
against the rebels over in the GazaStrip. Do you think we need to

fund Israel? Do you think weshould stay out of it? What's your
opinion on Israel right now? Israelis our strongest ally in the Middle East.
We have an obligation to help themin their fight against Tamas, the
terrorist organization that they are, SoI absolutely am in favor of funding Israel.
I was disappointed to see that theDemocrats in the Senate voting down funding

Israel, and it amazes me thatthey don't see the need to do so.
I believe Speaker Johnson had a greatbill that funded Israel while at the
same time protecting fiscal responsibility in theUS. So I was in favor of
that bill and I was extremely disappointedto see Democrats killing that bill in the
Senate. Well, Democrats, theytied funding to Israel to funding for Ukraine,

and the amount of money going toUkraine, it's it's dwarf or it
dwarfs what we're going to spend inIsrael what they're proposing. Anyway, do
you think, why do you thinkthat such a Partisans divide on the issue
of funding for Israel and funding forUkraine. Well, I think you've got
an establishment issue that they want tocontinue funding Ukraine to because of some of

their pet projects involved with there.And these are two separate issues. Israel
and Ukraine are entirely different issues.And we've already we've already given so much
money to Ukraine, so much morethan NATO has. NATO needs to step
up and do their part. Andinstead of expecting the US to continue sending
this money, because in fact,the money we're sending to Ukraine we don't
even have. We're borrowing this money. And again that's why I think the

approach that Speaker Johnson took with Israelwith the using funding to I R S
to offset that, I think thatwas a great approach and that should be
the approach that we take. Meanwhile, when we look back here at home,
Jeric, let's talk about some ofour roads around the state of Alabama,
specifically through the sixth congressional district thatyou're running for and I sixty five.

They're doing some work, but there'sa lot of work that still needs
to be done. What do youwant to do, What do you think
we should be doing when it comesto infrastructure when it comes to that,
especially in the sixth district. Absolutely, I think the Alabama First Infrastructure and
Business Plan is part of my platform. In fact, you can find out
more details on exactly what I wantto do with that on our website,
wilkinsforal dot com. But I believewe've got to prioritize Alabama first and direct

and directly address those issues with Isixty five, with two to eighty,
with other infrastructure projects. And that'sone of the other differences we have between
myself and our incumbent opponent. I'mgoing to prioritize Alabama first and not Ukraine's
purse, and that's what we've gotto be able to focus on. One
of the things that's being rather contentiousis that some want to build rather than
use the money to work on sixtyfive, they want to pill the road

four lane road from Tuscalusa down toMobile. I don't know where you stand
on that project. Well, Ithink we've got to prioritize some of the
current infrastructure needs that we have.Anyone who's made the trip on I sixty
five knows that it's an issue.My daughter goes to college at UAH and
Huntsville, so we regularly make thattrip up there. I encourage her to

come down as much as as muchas possible as any dad would love to
see their daughter. And I cantell you that that project is challenging.
And then you make the trip downto Montgomery. I mean, goodness,
how many times have we been stuckin traffic on I sixty five. These
are the current corridors that we needto fix and widen, and they make
a huge investment. They're necessary foran investment for tourism in our state with

direct access to Tennessee and down tothe beach. So we should prioritize I
sixty five, and then I thinkwe can look at some other projects after
we get that done. I feellike sixty five it wouldn't it wouldn't hurt
me a bit if it was atleast three lanes all the way from all
the way from Huntsville or the stateline, all the way to well Mobile.
Absolutely there's places there should be threelanes, and many places before and

more. But what we continue todo is we're continuing to prioritize other things
that are not important to Alabama,and we've got to realize we need to
put Alabama first, we need toput America first and keep focused on these
infrastructure projects as one of those keyways. And I think we can also
see significant growth in our business communityif we do that. And there's other

aspects that are tied to my AlabamaFirst Business and Infrastructure Development Plan that you
can find out more on our website. And how would you how do you
propose to pay for it? Iknow that we've raised the gas tax a
while back, but then it turnedout a lot of that money went into
deepening, dredging the Bay and mobileHow do you propose to pay for additional
work on our roads and bridges inthe state of Alabama. Well, I

think that if we look at theoverall federal budget, there's some funds that
we could utilize that we're sending toUkraine and other places that are not benefiting
America, and we can refocus thoseefforts here. In addition to that,
we've prioritized this ev agenda dealing withtrying to trying to fight a unnecessary climate

change agenda, and we can usethose funds to focus on things that are
important, such as roads and bridgesthat really matter to us. Right.
And one of the things I alwaysI think is interesting is we keep being
forced into evs. They're trying tomake everyone switch over to that, yet
it seems like the technology is notthere. You worked in the automotive section.
Can you speak to a little bitof the supply demand issue we're having
with evs, the batteries, themaintenance and just the general demand. Yeah.

In fact, I talked to dealerson a regular basis, and we're
seeing that the vehicles that are sittingon lots are these evs because they're excessively
expensive being able to mine the material. We're depending on China, which is
not where our focus should be.And we're pushing a political agenda tied to
climate change. It's really not necessary. And in fact, i'll tell you

this quick story, I'm always consideringmyself innovative and and I actually went and
bought an EV back in April,and I had that vehicle, and for
my bi business world, I travelquite a bit to dealerships and I was
going down to Deston for a conferenceand I took my EV that has a
three hundred and fifty mile range.I get down to Deston planning to plug

in at the hotel and surprise,surprise, Oh, their chargers just got
hit by lightning and there was noplace for me to charge. So I
make it back get enough charge aftertaking a detour to Montgomery, and the
chargers of Montgomery are out, andan hour and a half from my house,
I have to get a hotel roombecause I can't even make it home.
So we are clearly not in aposition to be pushing this EVS.

The American people don't want the EVSat this point. There's other alternatives that
we should be focused on. Andwhen we let the governor government pick winners
and losers, that's when there's aproblem. We need to let the marketplace
dictate this. There are hybrids,there's hydrogen options. There are other options
that are going to be much moreefficient for us, and we need to
get back to focused on American energyindependence. That's what we really need.

We need to get back to drilling, we need to complete the Keystone pipeline.
We need to get these things doneto focus is on America's energy independence,
and these are things that we cando that will fight inflation. Jeric
Wilkins one final Puss, if youwould give me your one minute elevator pitch.
Why you are the man for thesixth district coming up here in the
primaries. I guess this spring.Absolutely. I think it's time for us

to get business leaders in Washington.The American people are fed up with business
as usual in the status quo.I know how to balance a budget,
I know how to get deals done, and I maintain the conservative values that
Alabama wants. And that's why Ithink it's so important. And I hope
I can earn the voters in Alabamasixth District vote on March fifth, and

I'd love for them to connect withus online. You can find out more
at wilkinsfal dot com or on anyof our social media channels. But I
look forward to representing Alabama in Washington, and as I've already said, it's
only going to be for six years. Very good, Jeric, Welcome,
Thank you so much for joining methis week on Viewpoint Alabama. Thank you
so much. It's great to behere. And up next, Veteran mental
illness is on the rise in Alabamaand nationwide. We have a specus A

report from Ryan Gorman on veteran suicideto discuss that issue from a very personal
perspective, along with the tremendous workSimplifying An America's Fund AER doing to help
prevent veteran suicide. I'm joined nowby Army veteran JP Lane. JP,
thank you so much for coming onthe show, and of course, thank
you for your service to this country. We'll get to Simplified America's Fund and

just a bit, and for everyoneinterested in learning more about the work they
do, just go to the funddot org. That's the fund dot org.
But first let's start with your story. JP. When did you decide
to join the army and what wasbehind that decision. Yeah, Ryan,
thank you so much for having me. And I just want to say that
when people say thank you for yourservice, I want to let everyone know

you're worth it. But the reasonwhy I actually decided to join the Army
was of a day that most ofus remember, nine to eleven, right,
And the reason why that was sotraumatic for me was I was sitting
in eighth grade language arts class andI'll never forget the teacher leaves the room

and brings back a TV on wheels, and normally as kids in that grade
were like sweetest movie day and allof a sudden, yeah you remember everybody.
I remember's movie day and didn't haveto do homework. But this time
we didn't have to do homework becausewe were all in tears watching the Twin
Towers fall, and that really struckme. And my teacher was like,
hey, you may not understand this. So we're actually under attack right now.

And so that's when I decided,you know what, when I'm old
enough, I'm going to make thatpromise to myself that I'm going to sign
up and serve this nation and hopefullyget to be a part of that never
happening again. And obviously life goeson, things continue, and shortly after
I graduated high school, I wasreminded of that promise that I made myself,

and so I immediately went to therecruiters off the Army recruiter's office and
I walked in there and I waslike, Hey, what's the most dangerous
job you can give me right now? Wow, I'm ready to serve.
And at that moment, the recruitersaid, combat Engineer twelve. Bravo,
you'll be making bombs, own stuffup. It'll be a blast. Don't
worry, kids. And the funnything is I got to find that guy

because that's literally what he said,and he had no idea what was about
to happen. But that was thesole purpose of me signing that dotted line,
was watching that attack happen, knowingthat so many of my fellow Americans
had been hurt and killed and justfamilies were devastated. I wanted to be

a part of the protecting force tostop that. It's incredible. Now,
at that age, did you haveany experienced knowledge interest in the news or
things like that. Was your familypolitically active focused on the news. Was
there some kind of military background withinyour family at all? So they weren't

politically there was nothing about the news. But my dad served sixteen years in
the Air Force, Okay, soI remember hearing many stories about that.
My uncle served in the Navy,and so there was a little bit of
that military service in my background.But I'll tell you this, though,

my dad wasn't excited that I joinedthe Army, and especially when I told
him what job I chose. Hedefinitely wanted me to be a little bit
in a safer situation, but Iwanted to be front lines, and I
want to be a part of thatstopping force from the get go. It's
amazing that you know, a coupleof grades later, that was still sticking

with you to the point where youfollowed right up on that process. That's
how impactful that day was. Yeah. Now, absolutely, once you join
the army, once you signed up, what was your experience like there?
And I'm assuming Afghanistan was your firstjob. Yep. So I deployed the

Afghanistan in twenty ten. I joinedin two thousand and eight, and so
shortly after I joined, I impatientlywas waiting and I finally got to deploy
to Afghanistan and start my true serviceof how I wanted to give my service
to my nation. And so Igot over there with the sole mission of
doing route clearance. And for thosewho don't know what route clearance is,

ultimately every single day I would begoing out in some pretty awesome up armored
vehicles and we'd be searching for themassive bombs that the enemy would bury into
the roads, and they would theywould try to take us out with those.
My job was to go first findthem and make sure everyone else could
go safely on their mission. Whatwas it about that particular job within the

army that drew you to it.Was it just that that was, like
you had asked the recruiter one ofthe most dangerous jobs possible or was there
something else tied to it that ledyou to want to do that. Well,
it was one of the most dangerousjobs in the entire military. But
also I told him I want frontlineand in the in the current war that

we were in front linement, we'reclearing bombs before anyone else went and did
their thing. So that's as funas I could possibly get. So that's
what I chose. We're joined byArmy veteran JP Lane. He's here to
talk about Simplify and America's Fund,which we'll get to all the great work

that organization doesn't just a bit.You can learn more at the fund dot
org. When you first get toAfghanistan, what was that like just setting
foot in that country, so faraway from everything you knew, and they're
at to be a point where therealization said in that you know you signed

up for this, now you're init, right, Yeah, I'll never
forget. The landing was exactly likea movie. The plane literally was fly
to the left, fly to theright, then center out, and then
dive down. That's the combat landing. And then all of a sudden,

the back of the plane drops downand we start walking out and a sandstorm
punches us in the face. I'mtalking perfect movie quality, like you're in
it now, You're not going anywhere. Ninety percent of my missions, I
was a gunner, so I wouldalways be behind a fifty cow or two
four nine, all the different weaponsystems that the army uses. That was

mainly my job. The first timethat you went out with your unit without
the previous unit on your own,do you remember that experience? That was
actually one of the safest days forus, just because they have seasons of
when the the talibaner want to fightand when they're not wanting to fight,

and this was kind of a downseason, so it was a good time
to not only teach us the routes, but also for us to do our
job a little safer than the weeksahead. But the first couple missions nothing
exciting, just taking care of idthreats but no dangerous things happening to me

and my unit. And then asthe time progresses, while we're there for
our deployment, things started to getreally, really bad. So let's fast
forward. How long was it betweenwhen you got to Afghanistan and began your
mission and when you were struck bya two hundred pound ied So I was

actually blown up three separate times.The first two times I wasn't injured at
all. My vehicle was completely totaled. So between the first day that I
arrived in Afghanistan, which I believewas about December first, then I was
blown up in about February, thenno January February, then March twenty six,

twenty eleven, my best friend,Justin Ross was actually shot and killed
by a sniper, and that waswhat changed who I was as a person
internally completely. And fast forward.July second was my third and final blast
and the last day I was intheater. For those listening who are hearing

your story, they're hearing about theincredible work that Simplifying America's Fund continues to
do day in and day out.What are some ways you would suggest they
go about helping support that cause?Oh, I would easily say. I
always tell people I love to domy homework and find out what the best

organization is, and when I findit, I like to brag about it.
And one of those organizations is definitelythe fun Centifying America's Fun. And
I'm talking, we don't need everythingthat's in our wallest, right, we
can empty our wallest and help warriorsout. So I would definitely encourage every
listener here check out the fund dotorg and check out what they do,

the stories that they have about warriorsthat they help, And I promise you
if that doesn't tug on your heart, I don't know what does, because
that's all they care about as supportingthe warriors and their families. And there
are a lot of ways to supportSimpifying America's Fund. You can obviously go
to the website thefund dot org anddonate. You can also host an event

volunteer, so once you go tothe website, there will be a number
of different options for everyone to supportthis. Again, incredible organization. I
mean you're hearing it from JP himselfabout how much the fund has helped him.
For those who maybe find themselves ina similar situation to what you were
going through during your rehabilitation, someof the struggles that you were facing,

whether they are a fellow veteran ormaybe not, what would you suggest they
do to come out on the otherends like you have. I would suggest
that they take a a second sitdown and realize they woke up this morning,

they have air in their lungs.That means God has a purpose for
them still on this Earth, andeven though they may not know what it
is at the moment, trust me, I didn't know what my purpose was
for a whole year inside the hospitaland paying that entire time. I didn't
know it while I was in therapylearning how to walk again at the age
of twenty three. But He hasa purpose for you, and do not

ever give up. Know that youneed to keep pushing forward and reach out
to those who care about you andallow them to also encourage you on a
regular basis and lift you up.Because I was not able to do this
on my own, and I thoughtI was Army Strong's toughest soldier on planet
Earth. But we're not meant tolive this life alone. So reach out,

have people help, and don't evergive up. And there are so
many organizations that are there to supportthose going through something like that, whether
it's Simplify An America's Fund or variousother organizations all across the country. They're
available for that support. Finally,JP you talked about being a singer and

you're making music. Are there placeswhere everyone can go to check you out
and what you're doing? Absolutely ifyou go to YouTube, say JP Lane,
I got a couple songs on Spotifyand Amazon Music as well, and
a lot more to come. I'mactually working on an album as we speak,
so very about that and hoping toinspire people through my music. I

love what I do again. Searchfor JP Lane on YouTube or various other
platforms to find his work. Armyveteran JP Lane with us here to discuss
his personal story and simplify an America'sFund, which you can find at thefund
dot org. JP again, can'tthank you enough for coming on the show,
telling your story and for your tremendousservice to this country. We really

appreciate it. Thank you, Rian, Thank you so much for having me
again. You are worth it,your listeners are worth it, and I
hope you all have a very blessing. You've been listening to Viewpoint Alabama,
a public affairs program from the AlabamaRadio Network. The opinions expressed on Viewpoint
Alabama are not necessarily those of thestaff management, or advertisers of this station.
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