SALT LAKE CITY– A family man, a religious man, an ambitious man, a humorous man, an African-American man, and a Utah Senate man. Senator Alvin B. Jackson, R-Highland, was appointed in 2014 by Gov. Gary Herbert to the Utah State Senate to represent District 14. During his time in office, Jackson has spent the past year and half protecting the rights of his constituents.
“Before running, I spent six years studying and teaching the Constitution around the country,” Sen. Jackson said. “To me the primary purpose of the government, and as it says so in The Declaration of Independence, is to protect the rights of the people, so 90 percentage of my bills involve that–protecting the freedom and agency of the people.”
During the 2016 legislative term, Jackson’s number one priority is to pass SB45, a bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for a parent of truant school-age child.
“The government should not force people, it should encourage, educate, inform, and persuade people,” Sen. Jackson said. “Rather than throw parents in jail, we should go and sit down with and ask the parents, ‘What’s the problem? How can we get your child back in school?'”
However, Jackson may never see SB 45 come to fruition. He recently announced that he plans to resign from the legislative body after the session concludes next month. At the end of the school year, he and his family of seven will move back East, where Jackson grew up. The lawmaker plans to work on his family farm in Virginia, continue running his consulting firm, as well as help take care of his aging parents who live in the Washington, D.C. area.
Another plus to moving back East is that Jackson will be able to follow his son’s blossoming basketball career. Jackson’s son, Frank, a 17-year-old all-star athlete attending Lone Peak High School recently committed to play basketball at Duke University, breaking the hearts of BYU fans across the country.
“First of all Frank is going to Duke so we are really excited about that and now I will be able to go and watch some games,” Sen. Jackson said. “I take more pride in being called a dad, and a husband than being called a senator.”
Jackson grew up a Baptist, but shortly after meeting his wife Juleen Jackson at a dancing club in Georgetown, he converted to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“About three weeks into dating, I said ‘Hey you like me so I think you are really going to like my church.’ And almost immediately he started coming,” Mrs. Jackson said. “The people in the church just scooped him up and made him the basketball coach. Everyone just thought he was a member of the church because he came every week and had this calling.”
Not only does Sen. Jackson teach people all over the state about Constitutional principles, but so does his wife who hosts the weekly radio talk show “Liberty Moms” on K-Talk Salt Lake City.
“When you know these truths, God expects you to get up on that wall and use that knowledge to preserve, and defend this country and to perpetuate what our founders gave us,” Mrs. Jackson said.
In 2012, during Mitt Romney’s campaign for the presidency, NBC aired an hour-long special entitled “Mormons in America.” The Jackson family was featured as a model Mormon family for the segment. The Jacksons hosted an NBC production crew of seven in their home for three days as they showed America what it is really like to be a Mormon.
“They were most fascinated with what we did in the morning, our family devotional, and how we taught our children scripture, and how we also taught government principles,” Mrs. Jackson said.
You may also see the Senator in educational videos in LDS temple visitor centers across the country.
Jarom Carlson, a Utah Valley University student and intern for Sen. Jackson, appreciates the high standards the lawmaker and his family abide by.
“Sen. Jackson is a man who stands by his morals. He values highly the freedom of all, and he is willing to stand up and defend the right to choose,” Carlson said. “I think it’s really cool that he’s not afraid to talk religion or beliefs with others while simultaneously finding ways to share his own. Plus, he also has a fun sense of humor, which really can help when you’re having a bad day.”
Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, agreed with the intern and likened the Utah Legislature to a sausage factory because of both the power and peer pressure among the legislators.
“There is so much pressure up here to go along to get along. In fact I would say there is more peer pressure in the Utah Legislature than in all of the high schools in Utah combined,” Stephenson said. “Al has the courage to be the only “no” vote, or one of the handful no votes, in times when other legislators are just willing to look the other way even when it violates the principles they ran on when they were elected.”
Jackson is currently serving as the only African-American state senator in the Utah Legislature. Stephenson believes that this has greatly impacted Sen. Jackson’s service and some of the issues that he has tried to focus on.
“I remember I said ‘Al it took nearly two centuries for African-Americans to be treated as equals’ and he interjected right then without even thinking and said, ‘We still aren’t treated equal,'” Sen. Stephenson said. “He reminds us that there still is a lot of racial bigotry in our country, and that we just have to grow up and rise up, as Martin Luther King said, to the greatness that our Nation is destined to be.”