Prattville – Ray Boles, Republican candidate for Senate in District 30, is the son of Ronnie and Pat Boles of Prattville.
Boles has a twin brother, Ron, who is an officer with the City’s Police Department and a sister, Donna Boles Finch, an Autaugaville schoolteacher.
The Prattville native is the proprietor of Prattville Carpet and has been a small business owner for twelve years. In addition to operating a business that sells and installs flooring, Boles also has served on the Prattville City Council since his election in 2007.
Boles, 37, is married to the former Angie Hilyer of Prattville and they have three daughters; Morgan, Emma Ruth, and Saylor. A devoted father and husband, Boles is very active in the community and loves being outdoors. He is an avid hunter and is a member of the National Rifle Association.
District 30 includes all of Butler, Pike, and Crenshaw counties, and portions of Autauga, Elmore, and Lowndes counties, and is currently represented by Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne.
Boles sat down with Our Prattville to discuss his political platform.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Ray, what made you decide to run for the Senate?
Ray Boles: With the way the economy is, we really need business owners sitting at the State Senate and not lawyers. The whole thing is bringing jobs in. You don’t understand what companies are looking for unless you run one. They haven’t a clue what companies are actually looking for because they’ve never run a company.
They can promise them the moon to get them here, but unless they understand that the only way to help business owners is to lower taxes and to get off their backs with all of these stupid regulations, they’re not going to come to the state.
We’re a warm weather state, we have I-65 running straight through us, we’ve got three railroad tracks, we’ve got the bay right below us, we’re set up perfectly for industry, but we haven’t seen anything in forty years … not since the Paper Mill. Why is that? They’re not going after it.
The northern businesses want to come to Alabama because we have a cheaper work force, cheaper electricity rates, and they don’t have to heat the buildings all day in the winter, so it’s a lot less money to run a business down here than up north. So, that’s my whole thing. I just want to bring in industry.
If you bring in industry, you bring in new jobs. If you bring in new jobs, more houses are built and I get to lay more floors. I can go back to selling floors and get out of politics. That’s why I’m doing it.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): What was your wife’s reaction when you told her you wanted to run for the Senate?
Ray Boles: Shocked. She thought I had lost my mind, and the same with dad. They both thought I had lost my ever-loving mind.
Angie’s honest reaction was, “Ray, nobody’s going to vote for you. You just got on the City Council and you need to get your feet wet.” Well, yes I do need to stay where I am and I know that. I would love to stay where I am. But, I can do so much more on the State level than I can do on the City Council.
On the City level, you’re handling little stuff like you should be, but the main crux of the problem is that we need jobs. We need a man who knows how to bring in industry and I feel like I’m the right guy for the job.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Tell me about your basic platform.
Ray Boles: Number one is jobs. Number two is ethics. I want to bring stronger ethics laws into the state to clean up the rest of the politicians. No more gifts for politicians from lobbyists. You know, they can take two hundred and fifty dollars a day per lobbyist and you have six hundred lobbyists up there. You do the math. That’s why they want to stay. It’s just so much money rolling in there.
We need to do away with all free gifts. A lot of states have started that to try to clean everything up. After that, I would go after term limits. We should be working out of a job not for the job. That’s sort of like a missionary – he should be working to get out of the country by training the locals what to do.
We should be training the next generation. If you can’t get it fixed in eight years, you’re not going to fix it … twelve years max. Then (if you’re in the Senate), go down to the legislature if you want to stay in politics and run for Congress or even run for Governor, but don’t stay in the same spot for thirty years.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): What are your feelings on gambling and the lottery?
Ray Boles: Okay, you take Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi … who would you say has the best school system? I’d say probably Georgia or Florida. Who would you say has the worst school system? I’d say Mississippi. Why do we want co copy Mississippi? In business, you always copy somebody who is successful.
Mississippi has the gaming. The problem with the gaming is that we don’t control the money – very little of it is controlled. Taxing it at twenty-five percent wouldn’t even cover the cost of having it here. You’re going to have a lot of people who live on unemployment, and you’ll have people that lose it all and come to the State wanting them to feed them.
In the case of the lottery, though, the State controls one hundred percent of the money and they get it all instead of just twenty-five percent of it. So, it’s sort of a no-brainer. You want to go with the lottery and not the gaming. Gaming is big business, but for the State to make money you want to go with the lottery and the State can control the purse strings.
The only way I would ever support gambling would be if there was a $50 million buy in to come here, have a fifty percent tax, and no gifts to politicians.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): What about a gaming commission?
Ray Boles: The gaming commission would have to be more than five people and set up with more stringent laws. You’re dealing with people who have more money than we’ve ever seen and that don’t want to pay taxes. They’ll do anything to cut corners and keep from paying taxes so you’d have to be real careful when you go down that road.
That’s what was wrong with this bill that was ahead of us. It was only twenty-five percent and very little buy in. If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right. Let’s do it like Ohio does and make sure that we do this thing proper so that the State is making the money.
There’s nothing wrong with a business owner making money. But, the easiest way to protect the State is have the lottery and not the gaming.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Do you think that Governor Riley is being influenced on the gaming issue by the Choctaw Indian lobby?
Ray Boles: I have no idea. I figure we’ll know that in about five years. It always comes out. But, I’m not there and not privy to the information.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Are you saying then that it’s your business experience that makes you qualified to be a Senator?
Ray Boles: Absolutely. It’s purely business experience because that’s what the seat is about. So, it’s not the two years I served on the Council. That doesn’t make me qualified. It’s the twelve years I have in business. Knowing how to maintain and fund a business makes me qualified because that’s what you’re doing.
You’re not running a small business at the Senate; you’re running a big business at that point. That’s what running the State is – big business.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Your parents still live in Prattville, correct?
Ray Boles: Yes, that’s my dad there with me in the store. Mama runs a non-profit organization downtown called Global Impact. A lot of people don’t have a clue that we have a non-profit organization in Prattville that sends out millions of dollars worth of medical and food supplies every year to third world countries.
It was rated one of the top non-profit organizations in the country because of how little money they actually keep as opposed to how much money goes out. Many people haven’t a clue how much money in food and supplies they send. They sent sixteen million pounds of beans, sixteen million pounds of flour, sixteen million pounds of oil and other stuff to Nicaragua.
Missionaries received the supplies in Nicaragua. They gave it to the school system and it was divided up into about seven districts. The districts would divide it up for all of the principals. The principals would take it and give it to the teachers who would divide it up for the children, and the children would take it home. That would feed the whole country. They did this every single day. It’s such a cool process.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): You’ve been a missionary yourself, haven’t you?
Ray Boles: Yes, I went to Uganda, Africa for a while in 1995 and to the Chuuk Islands in 1996 to help with the medical missions team there. I was just labor on both of those trips. I took Angie and Morgan to Nicaragua to show them the work in that country. So, yes, we’re big into the missions programs.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Ray, how many siblings do you have?
Ray Boles: I have a twin brother, Ron, who’s at the Police Department, and a sister who teaches sixth grade in Autaugaville.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Did you go to school here in Prattville?
Ray Boles: Yes, I graduated from high school here and went to two years of college. I am dyslexic. Being dyslexic means I can’t read well, can’t spell worth a flip, and cannot learn a foreign language. That is just something God gave me and I’ve learned to deal with it.
Halfway through college I realized I could make a lot more money working than I could struggling through school. So, I went to work and it paid off pretty well for me.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Are you involved in the school system here with your children?
Ray Boles: Oh yes. Angie works as a full-time stay-at-home mom, so she’s involved a hundred percent in the kids. I’m here at 7:00 AM and leave by 5:00 or 6:00. Then, I take a kid one way and she takes a kid another way until about 8:00 and then we go home.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): What are their ages?
Ray Boles: We have a fourteen, a ten, and a two year old (she’ll be three next week).
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Why do you support charter schools?
Ray Boles: Competition. Competition is a very healthy reason for anything. I have a carpet store two stores up from me and I don’t complain about him being there. It makes me work harder to make a living. If I was the only carpet man in town, I’d be one lazy, fat man.
Competition is the best thing about the charter schools. It is healthy for the free market society and it should be healthy for the school system.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Can you say during your short term as a City Councilman that you have learned or gained experience that you can take to the Senate?
Ray Boles: Absolutely. I’ve learned how to talk to people. If you want something passed, I’ve learned the ropes on how to get things passed. I’ve learned how you can get information out. That’s probably the most important thing I’ve learned – how to get information to the public. Even if you don’t change it, you can get the information out and it changes it for the better. I learned how to get something out without spinning it so everybody’s on the same playing field and they know what’s going on.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): How do you intend to cut through the “good old boy network” that has been so entrenched in Alabama politics for years?
Ray Boles: The same way I did it down there. I’m not planning on making friends. I would say I haven’t made a lot of friends on the City Council.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): It appears at times you are the “lone ranger” on some of your ideas. For example, wanting to cut some money from the arts programs in the city.
Ray Boles: Yeah, a lot of people didn’t like that.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Do you think some of that has to do with being the youngest on the Council in terms of seniority?
Ray Boles: Well, I understand that it’s business. If you owe $50 million, you owe $50 million and you’ve got to start paying that down as quickly as possible. It would do nobody any good if we went broke like Birmingham. I’m not saying that we will, though, because Rod’s done a great job of paying the bills and ensuring that we’re paying them, but we need to do everything we can to cut what we need to cut.
We need to be financially sound for the next generation and the next City Council and for the next mayor so we don’t leave them in a hole they can’t get out of. That’s why I wanted to figure a way to take at least a million dollars out of the budget.
We only have $800,000 in savings. When you’re working off of a $36 million budget you shouldn’t have $800,000 in savings. If you do, you need to start cutting stuff back and that’s what I was trying to get across to everybody. But, it’s not politically correct.
It’s a lot easier to have the $800,000 and to keep spending money and make everybody happy and keep your job. If you’re not worried about getting re-elected you start cutting everything and get the City sound. That’s all that was about. At this point with the $36 million budget we should have $3.6 million in the bank. We should have at least ten percent in the bank and we don’t have it.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): Would you vote to repeal Roe vs. Wade?
Ray Boles: Yes, absolutely. I have three girls and couldn’t imagine killing any of them.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): So you’re a staunch pro-lifer with no exceptions?
Ray Boles: I truly believe that we are created at conception. That’s when God gives us our soul and that’s when He breathes life into us. That’s just the way it is.
Melissa Parker (Our Prattville): You’re also against same-sex marriage?
Ray Boles: Marriage is only between a man and a woman.
Melissa Parker (Our Parker): Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Ray. Do you have any further comments?
Ray Boles: Just vote Boles June 1.
Interview by Melissa Parker
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