CAMPAIGN 2018: Q&A with Carol Berry


Carol Berry (Courtesy of Carol Berry)

CULLMAN – This week, The Tribune caught up with candidate Carol Berry, who is challenging incumbent Tammy Brown for the post of Cullman County Probate Judge in the June 5 primary election.  A Vinemont native and Cullman resident, Berry is the former executive director of Restoring Women Outreach; she said she hopes to take her experience as head of the addiction recovery nonprofit to court as a champion for better mental health services.

What made you want to become a judge?

“My reason for running is not because I want to be a politician.  My reason for running is not because I am looking for another title to wear.  The reason I want to become your probate judge is because I have seen the lack of support and engagement that is so desperately needed for this community.  There is so much more we could be providing to our families, our nonprofits, our support networks that are in the trenches day after day, and I believe I am the leader that can accomplish that.  It will take this community working together. My track record proves I know how to do that and will bring that knowledge to this office.”

What are the main things you hope to accomplish if elected?

“It is my desire to ensure that every citizen has access to me on a regular basis.  Therefore, it will be made known that I will keep an open door policy for all to share their insights, challenges and needs.  There is no other way for us to address the concerns of our community without being accessible. I will be that once elected.

“I have been told repeatedly that the processes currently in place are outdated and therefore slowing down and impeding citizens from getting what they need when they need it.  That needs to change. The citizens of our county deserve better. When elected to office, I will review and assess all current policies, procedures and processes and will create a strategy to implement up-to-date software, customer service and cross-training to ensure the citizens of Cullman County get what they are entitled to in paying their taxes.  We work for them. They should get their money’s worth out of us.

“The state has taken their hands off of mental health care in Alabama.  We must address this better at a local level. I intend to partner with every organization, agency, church or group that is willing to identify solutions and provide access and support for those who need it the most.  Our community’s strength is in connecting resources and using their unified strength to address problems. We have seen it over and over again. We can be a leader in the state in this area, as long as we work together to provide the services and support our citizens so desperately need.”

What do you consider to be the big differences between you and your opponent?

“What I believe the people can expect from me, that would be different than what they have been receiving, is someone who not only has years of experience in business, accounting and leading a successful nonprofit that I began from scratch, but I also have been in the trenches over those years.  I have family members and friends who have struggled with mental health conditions. The nonprofit I led for eight years supported and aided life transformation of women who had been incarcerated and in addiction for years. Our success stories are proof of what God has already accomplished through me.  Though my opponent may have been making decisions on their behalf for the past five years, I have been walking with them to support their mental health. My desire to be in the office is out of my compassion for the individual and families that are affected by these challenging conditions.”

If you could boil your message down to a concise statement, what would you want people to know about you?

“I am a wife, mother, grandmother, advocate, business woman and nonprofit leader.  I have been advocating for the rights of the mentally ill for more than 10 years. I understand the challenges that families face when dealing with mental illness.  I have grieved with parents who have lost their child in overdose or suicide. I have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support those who are vulnerable and mentally ill in our community.  I also have experience in budgeting, management and working in union with others to accomplish a goal. The probate office is a very diverse office, and I can assure you I know each responsibility well.  I am positive I have every skill necessary to not only fill the position but bring changes and leadership to improve it. My record speaks for itself.

“If elected, this community can be sure that I will spend every moment listening, researching, assessing and creating strategies that will not only support the needs of the mentally ill and those who love them but make sure every responsibility of the probate office is handled in the same manner.  My goal for the probate office is to create an environment that utilizes and encourages teamwork, not only with internal staff but with other County offices and the public. At the end of a six-year term, my hope would be the citizens of Cullman County could clearly see the accomplishments of the probate office and know we made a difference, that we changed things!  I would hope the office would reflect how I treated staff, other county offices, and most importantly the citizens of Cullman, and they all could be proud to say I had been their probate judge!”

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