Over the last few months, Daniel Almond his knocked on hundreds of doors, introducing himself to the voting public.“For the last six or seven months, I’ve been campaigning,” he said. “I’ve been knocking on at least a thousand doors, probably closer to two thousand, meeting people, seeing what they have to say.”
Almond is running for the state House of Representatives District 159 seat, currently held by Rep. Jon Burns. Burns, who was named House majority leader last year, is running for a seventh two-year term.
A newcomer to politics, Almond said he noticed there has not been any competition for Burns, especially in the primaries.
“The way the district is set up, the primary is the only one that matters,” he said.
No Democrat qualified to run for the seat, so the position likely will be decided in the May 24 primary.
Almond added there is a “lot of cronyism and corruption” taking place at the Capitol.
“There are a lot of lobbyists who have their hands in legislation who stand to benefit financially,” he said. “That’s not the way it should be. Representatives should vote in the interest of their constituents.”
Almond, who was a corrections officer at Effingham County Prison, said the private prison lobby has had too much of an influence in criminal justice reform.
“I think the way the justice system has been managed has been counterproductive,” he said. “Their interest is to have more inmates and more spent on prisons, which is not the same as having a better justice system. There is a real conflict of interest there with the way our justice system works.”
Almond said Corporate Corrections of America, a private prison firm, had influence on Gov. Nathan Deal’s initiatives to reform the state’s criminal justice system.
“That’s what it’s being sold as,” he said. “Gov. Deal, as well as a lot of the leadership, has received a lot of money from Corporate Corrections of America. I believe they have been influenced by the private prison lobby and what’s being billed as criminal justice reform I suspect is a payoff to the private prison lobby. They have an interest, they get paid, for having more inmates.”
A former Marine, Almond enlisted in 1999 and continued to re-enlist. He said he served in the battle for Fallujah.
“So I’m a fighter,” he said. “I’m a patriot.”
Now a resident of Clyo, Almond also said he led the “Restore the Constitution” rally, a 2010 march of 2nd Amendment and gun ownership rights advocates to the Potomac River basin.
“That was done purely out of principle,” he said. “I think the people need to be represented by someone who will fight the good fight on their behalf. I am seeking to represent the people and not any outside interest groups and not my own personal interests.”
Almond currently works as a security guard at a chemical plant in Savannah. He said he has been struck by how friendly and appreciative the people he meets are.
“A lot of people appreciate a politician is willing to knock on their door and come to talk to them. A lot of them haven’t seen that before,” he said. “It’s a little tougher than I expected, having another job. I wake up before the sun rises and travel to Savannah for a job. But it shouldn’t be easy. I do enjoy it. It’s hard work, but I enjoy it.”
Almond, who is married and the father of four children, said he wanted to give people a choice and add some competition.
“Competition is better,” he said. “I’m the kind of person who stands very firm on principle.”
Almond also complimented the volunteers who are working in his behalf, putting up signs and knocking on doors.
His message to constituents he meets along the campaign path is that he intends to serve the people and not his own financial interests or those of a lobbying group, along with his goals for the district.
“I have a vision of the area where there is less taxes and less red tape and regulations on businesses,” he said. “I think we can broaden with less regulation, less red tape and less taxes we can get more jobs and more business in the area — get government out of the way and get special interests out of the way.”