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Hilliard announces candidacy for Congress

State Rep. Earl F. Hilliard Jr. announced on Monday that he would run for U.S. Representative Artur Davis’s seat in Congress in the 2010 election. Davis has announced that he will not seek re-election to his Congressional seat as he prepares to campaign for governor.

Hillard, a Democrat from Birmingham, currently represents Alabama’s 60th District in Jefferson County. A native of Birmingham, he was elected in 2006 to his current post.

“I just won Freshman State Legislator of the Year,” Hilliard said. “I’ve been working with many groups throughout communities all over Alabama, like the Poverty Task Force, to reach the goals I set when I was elected to the House. One of the accomplishments I wanted to achieve when elected was to seek approval of an Alabama film incentives bill — which we just passed and the governor has signed. I’m a big fan of business incentives and other legislation dealing with economic development.”

Asked why he decided to throw his hat into the run more than a year before the June primaries, Hilliard spoke of the opportunity afforded to him.

“With Artur moving on to run for governor — when you see an opening like this become available, and you realize how much of an impact you can have on the state and its people in this position, that was probably what spurred [announcing my candidacy],” he said.

“It’s actually very comfortable. It gives you time to talk to your wife — I have young kids — and without having to rush into making a decision, I can just see where I would want to go and what else I would want to do.

“When you have this kind of time, it allows us to set up a network and go county-by-county and city-by-city and talk to people and listen to people,” he said.

“I can talk about economic development. I can talk about how I want to improve the infrastructure, how I want to bridge the digital divide, how I know that schools are crumbling in some situations and need more resources to build.”

Hilliard said there were a number of issues he was supportive of.

“There were two main issues that I ran on (for state representative),” he said. “One was the film incentives, but the other one is that I have a love for foster care and adoption. They are huge in my family. My grandparents adopted, I’ve got cousins and aunts who have adopted, my wife and I have fostered and adopted — it’s just something that is near and dear to me.

“Right now, we’re working on white-collar incentives and knowledge-based incentives. That is something that is going to be big not only in areas like Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, but especially in this part of the district – including the other 10 counties that are in the Black Belt.”

Hilliard said he plans to take advantage of the time up to the primaries to visit with the people in his district.

“I have a plan; I have an outline,” he said, “but that outline is from the outside. Now, I’m on the inside, and now, I have time just to talk to people and listen to them, so if you want to call this a ‘listening tour,’ that’s what I’ll have the opportunity to do.”

Hilliard said he plans on setting up campaign offices throughout the 7th Congressional District.

A native of Birmingham and a lawyer and filmmaker, Hilliard earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Morehouse College and attended law school at the University of Alabama and at Howard University, where he earned his juris doctorate degree.

After completing law school, he worked as a civic affairs specialist in corporate external affairs for the Coca-Cola company in Atlanta. He later worked in Washington, D.C., as the director of government relations for Morehouse College. He is now an attorney with the law firm of Hilliard, Smith and Hunt LLC and is president of Magic City Films Inc.

Hilliard’s father, Earl Sr., served in Congress from 1992 to 2002 after serving long stints in the Alabama State Legislature.

The senior Hilliard was defeated in 2002 by Davis, the man that the younger Hilliard wants to follow.

Hilliard, 39, and his wife, Janine, have two children, Earl III and Nya Nicole.After completing law school, he worked as a civic affairs specialist in corporate external affairs for the Coca-Cola company in Atlanta. He later worked in Washington, D.C., as the director of government relations for Morehouse College. He is now an attorney with the law firm of Hilliard, Smith and Hunt LLC and is president of Magic City Films Inc.

Hilliard’s father, Earl Sr., served in Congress from 1992 to 2002 after serving long stints in the Alabama State Legislature. The senior Hilliard was defeated in 2002 by Davis, the man that the younger Hilliard wants to follow.

Hilliard, 39, and his wife, Janine, have two children, Earl III and Nya Nicole.