Al Lawson

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Al Lawson won Florida Congressional District 5 in 2016.

Congressman Lawson has devoted more than half of his life to public service and is guided by the belief that the greatest gift an individual can give is service to their community. Lawson has served the people of Florida for 28 years in the state legislature as a member of the Florida House of Representative and the Florida Senate.

As a native of Midway, Florida, Lawson graduated from Havana Northside High School and received his Bachelor’s degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), where he lettered in basketball and ran track. Lawson went on to earn a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Florida State University and completed his coursework for a Ph.D. in Public Administration.[1]


Rep. Lawson is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.


“CAIR’s efforts to uphold unity within the community and encourage civic engagement plays a significant role in guiding America forward.”

Rep. Al Lawson (D-Fla.) (October 2017).


Newly elected U.S. Rep. Al Lawson has hired some familiar faces to staff offices in Washington, Tallahassee and Jacksonville.

And, he has announced that his congressional office will be on the first floor of the Renaissance Center in Frenchtown.

Lawson, a Democrat, defeated Republican Glo Smith 64 percent to 35 percent in the general election to capture the newly configured 5th Congressional District seat.

The freshman congressman has named Tola Thompson, Florida A&M University’s director of government relations, as his chief of staff. Friday is Thompson’s last day at FAMU, where he has served in state and federal relations for nearly 10 years.

Tola Thompson, governmental relations director at Florida A&M, has been named chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Al Lawson. He previously served for 10 years as communications director, senior legislative assistant and policy adviser for former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek.

Joining Thompson in Washington is Vincent Evans, who will become an administrative assistant to Lawson.

Evans has served the past two years as an aide to Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson. The FAMU graduate also was a statewide coordinator for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Lawson said.

Before joining Richardson in 2014, he worked as a policy and rules research assistant for the Florida Department of Agriculture. He also worked as a legislative assistant for Lawson and Associates, a governmental relations firm and served from 2011 to 2012 as a legislative analyst for the Florida Senate.

Lawson also has named Derron Bennett, a graduate of FAMU’s School of Business and Industry, as policy director.

Bennett was Lawson’s campaign manager in this fall’s congressional race. He also will serve as assistant to the legislative director, whom Lawson has yet to name.

Other staff hires include:

Deborah Fairhurst, district director, based in Tallahassee. Fairhurst worked as a legislative aide in the Florida Senate and later headed up constituent services for Lawson and Associates. She will coordinate efforts between the Jacksonville and Tallahassee offices.

Former Leon County Commissioner Rudy Maloy will be in charge of constituent services and field operations, based in Tallahassee. He will focus on citizen interests in Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson and Madison counties.

Former State Sen. Tony Hill will work in Lawson’s Jacksonville office, directing community outreach and field operations from Lake City to Jacksonville. He served in the Florida House from 1992 to 2000 and in the Florida Senate from 2002 to 2010.

Ironically, Hill initially expressed interest in running for the congressional seat if the incumbent Rep. Corrine Brown had decided not to seek re-election. She did and was defeated by Lawson.[2]

Staff, past and present