Joins group of the most innovative Democratic state and local officials working to solve American’s largest challenges
Contributed to the Opelika Observer
Today, State Representative Jeremy Gray was
selected as one of 19 leaders from across the country to join the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a selective national network of state and local elected officials.
Gray joins the group at a time when state and local leaders are on the frontlines of responding to the pandemic and as they take on a critical role in implementing the American Rescue Plan recently signed by President Biden. The new law will send hundreds of billions of dollars to state and local governments. NewDEALers are supporting each other in addressing the many challenges created and exacerbated by COVID-19 by innovating, convening virtually, and sharing good ideas. The NewDEAL has launched a database of policies and programs that address the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic and is publishing recommendations for building back better from this crisis.
Members of the nearly 200-person network are working to enact pro-growth progressive solutions in a diverse array of communities. They have been chosen from more than 1650 nominations over its decade-long history.
Gray and his peers in the new class of leaders (listed below) were recognized for their unwavering commitment to expanding opportunity as they work to build back better in their communities and reject the idea that policymakers can or should want to turn the clock back to a prior era. These leaders’ work will build on policy recommendations that NewDEAL Leaders help develop, including the release of reports on education and climate change, as well as recommendations from the NewDEAL Forum Renewing American Task Force, which has provided guidance for state and local leaders to address affordable housing, child care, broadband access, entrepreneurship, mass transit, and the social safety net. Leaders are currently participating in NewDEAL’s Build Back Better series, which supports them in addressing simultaneous crises around public health, the economy, racial equity and climate change.
NewDEAL Leaders have found broad support for their work across red, blue, and purple states and cities, with more than 20 rising to higher office in the past few years. These leaders include members of Congress, such as Marilyn Strickland in Washington, Greg Stanton in Arizona, and Jennifer Wexton in Virginia, as well as new Mayors in cities from Dallas and Phoenix to Boise, Kansas City and Montgomery, AL. Additional leaders are on the ballot for Congress and other higher offices in 2022.
“We are in a unique moment for state and local leaders as we must find solutions for the urgent challenges created by COVID-19 while not losing focus on longer-term issues that will also affect Alabama’s economic security for decades to come,” said Gray. “I look forward to sharing lessons with and learning from other leaders who are setting the standard for effective governance, and I am excited to be part of NewDEAL’s efforts to expand opportunities for Americans in communities nationwide.”
First elected to the state house in 2018, Gray was selected to join NewDEAL because of his dedication to making Alabama a state inclusive of everyone through his work on education reform, criminal justice reform, and equitable and accessible transit. One of Gray’s key initiatives is his bill to make the expungement process easier for those who are seeking a second chance in life, which would expand expungement eligibility to persons convicted of certain non-violent misdemeanors and would further protect those records from being divulged after expungement. Gray has also sponsored legislation to attract electric bike companies to Alabama, require schools to provide water stations as well as clean filtered water and lift the 1993 ban on yoga in Alabama’s K-12 public schools.
Gray’s most recent accomplishment was a bipartisan effort to establish the Innovate Alabama Matching Grant Program which will allow for matching funds to entities receiving the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology (STTR) grants. According to Gray, “This legislation will help incentivize and encourage high-risk, high-reward technology businesses and startups to seek federal SBIR & STTR funding awards, and foster more innovative research and development activity that stays in Alabama.”
The NewDEAL brings together leaders focused on expanding opportunity, helping them develop and spread innovative ideas to spur economic growth that is broadly-earned and sustainable. Most importantly, the organization facilitates the exchange of ideas among its members and connects them with other pro-growth progressive political, policy, and private sector leaders.
Today’s announcement brings the total number of NewDEAL members – statewide officials, legislators, mayors, councilmembers, and other local leaders – to 178 leaders from 47 states.
Learn more about Rep. Gray and the NewDEAL at http://www.newdealleaders.org/leaders.
The new class of NewDEAL Leaders includes:
Representative Jeremy Gray, Auburn, AL
Senator Ben Allen, Los Angeles, CA
Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, Baldwin Park, CA
Representative Dylan Roberts, Eagle, CO
Senator Will Haskell, Westport, CT
Representative Quentin Phipps, Middlesex, CT
Senator Sarah McBride, Wilmington, DE
Representative Christine Hunschofsky, Parkland, FL
Representative Tram Nguyen, Andover, MA
Mayor Zeb Smathers, Canton, NC
Senator Rebecca Kwoka, Rockingham, NH
Representative Denny Ruprecht, Grafton, NH
Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti, Scranton, PA
Commissioner Ken Lawrence, Montgomery County, PA
Representative Leonela Felix, Pawtucket, RI
School Board Member Sheleah Harris, Shelby County, TN
Mayor Trey Mendez, Brownsville, TX
Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, VT
Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck, WA