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Figures, ex-Obama aide and U.S. Dept of Justice official, qualifies for crowded field of district 2 hopefuls

Shomari Figures, the former deputy chief of staff and counselor to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland Mayors, participates in a forum about Black-owned businesses as part of the Port City Classic's Black Business Expo on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, Ala.John Sharp/

On Thursday, the former Barack Obama campaign and White House aide joined the voluminous list of Democrats to qualify for the race, one day prior to the deadline.

“We have a real opportunity to change lives in this district,” he said. “Too many people and communities have been neglected and ignored - and have felt for some time that representation hasn’t focused on them. It is time to remove the neglect and show the world that the district that birthed the civil rights movement, can again serve as a model for this nation.”

As of this writing, Figures is the ninth Democrat to qualify; the deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.

The primary is March 5, 2024.

Like most of the other hopefuls, Figures cites the opportunity to fuel economic growth for residents in the most impoverished parts of the district as among his motivations for seeking the seat. The district was redrawn by a federal court to provide Black voters in the state a better chance of electing a representative of their choosing.

“My mom found herself as a widow with young children,” Figures said. (State Sen. Michael Figures died in 1996 and was succeeded by his wife.) “She was blessed with support and resources but it was still difficult. Alabamians feel the strain of doing more with less. We have to provide access to options for people to take advantage of better jobs and educational pathways.”

He also cites expanding access to quality health care, better supporting teacher,s and creating more jobs in the region.

“We all know people we lost from health issues that could have been treated or avoided if they had access to quality healthcare,” he said. “That is completely unacceptable.”

“Our teachers are forced to do much more these days beyond teaching,” he added. We must … incentivize the profession in a way that encourages teachers to remain in our classrooms longer.”

He adds schools must “prepare students for jobs that exist here in the district as well in those industries we are seeking to attract.”

Figures added that U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, now in her seventh term as Alabama’s lone Democrat and African American in Congress, “has been holding it down alone for far too long. We have to ensure she has a colleague in District 2 that can hit the ground running.”

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