Howard will face Turner in House race

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 31, 2005

Another hat has been tossed into the House District 72 ring.

This one belongs to Ralph A. Howard of Greensboro, an ex-Marine who says his experience serving his country overseas will help him serve his district in the state legislature.

“We have a lot of challenges facing us,” he says. “One thing I learned in the Marines is that we can’t be afraid of taking up and overcoming those challenges ahead of us.”

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Howard, 35, was born in Montgomery before moving to Greensboro and graduating from Greensboro High’s West Campus. While serving in the Marines, he continued his education at the University of Maryland’s branch in Okinawa, Japan before finishing a degree in criminal justice at the University of Alabama. He has now returned to Greensboro, where he lives with his wife Yolande, a social worker in Bibb County.

Howard is employed in Bibb as well, working for the Bibb County Board of Education as Adult Education Instructor for the county correctional facility. He also serves as assistant agent for the state Cooperative Extension Service in Bibb County.

Howard’s greatest concern is the inability of area leaders to work together for the good of the entire district. “The more people you’re able to bring to the table, the greater your chance of success,” he says. “Our leaders have failed to bring everyone to the table. They have been polarized, and when leadership becomes polarized communities fail.”

Howard is under no illusions as to the difficulty of getting entire communities on the same page. “It’s a very difficult task to get everyone together,” he said. “But we have to extend ourselves, or we can never really get a good understanding. As Representative I will be willing to extend myself and talk to people, to go to groups and companies and engage people in dialogue…you never know until you ask.”

According to Howard, it’s the Black Belt’s citizens, rather than its soil, that are its greatest resource. “Our biggest asset is our people,” he says. “I’ve been around the area a long time and I know quite a few people. There are so many good, hardworking people here and they deserve better. They shouldn’t have to leave elsewhere to find jobs, to work for other people’s industry.”

Another focus of Howard’s campaign will be accountability. “I think when people talk about things that have gone wrong here, we have to have accountability. Where were things stopped at? Who were they stopped by? We have to know who will work and who won’t.”

And if there’s anything Howard says he’s willing to do, it’s work. “As state representative, there’s a lot you can do. There’s a lot you have to do.”