By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
Rep. Andrew Sorrell is one of the 28 newly-elected lawmakers in the Alabama House of Representatives this year.
His Colbert and Lawrence County district includes three of the four “quad cities of Northwest Alabama – Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia – and stretches east along the Tennessee River to the Decatur city limit.Sorrell hails from Muscle Shoals and graduated from Muscle Shoals High School in 2004 before attending college across the river at the University of North Alabama.
He and his wife, Hannah, reside in Muscle Shoals where Andrew owns and operates multiple businesses, including a college textbook store and an upscale pawn shop called “Gold, Guns, and Guitars.”
He is assuming a long-held Democratic House seat that was represented by the same person since 1990: Rep. Marcel Black, who decided to retire this year after 18 years in the Legislature. Winning the seat wasn’t easy, as Sorrell faced competitive contests in both his Republican Primary and the General Election.Among his “freshman” class of legislators, Sorrell also stands out as one of its youngest at the age of 32.
It doesn’t take long for Sorrell’s youthfulness and vigor to come through (he doesn’t drink coffee because he has enough energy naturally).In a series of questions with Alabama Daily News, Sorrell made it clear he is ready to put that energy to work as the 2019 Regular Session approaches.
Seven Questions with Rep. Andrew Sorrell
Caroline Beck: So tell me what first made you want to get into politics? Was there any one moment that made you decide to start running?
Andrew Sorrell: I have always been a voter and have been interested in politics, but I didn’t get involved until Barack Obama won the Presidency in 2008. By 2009, the country was headed in a direction I was uncomfortable with and I began volunteering on political campaigns. When I saw a Republican get 40% against Marcel Black in 2014, I knew that seat would be winnable for the right Republican candidate in 2018. I tried to recruit my dad to run for it but couldn’t convince him. I remember thinking, “maybe I should just run for it then.” I began preparing for my campaign about 3 years ago.
CB: What is one thing that your constituents would be surprised to know about you?
AS: I don’t ever drink coffee. Everyone always jokes about that because I have seemingly limitless energy, I must drink a lot of coffee…but it isn’t true. I don’t do energy drinks either.
CB: What is something about your district that many people living outside of it don’t know about it? What is your favorite thing about your district?
AS: My answer to both of these is the same: the history. From Tuscumbia Landing to Helen Keller’s home to The Village in Sheffield (WWI) to the Courtland Air Base (WWII), my district is loaded with history and played an important role in winning two world wars and inspiring millions of deaf or blind children.
CB: Since this district has been represented by a Democrat, Marcel Black, for many many years before you. How has that transition gone for you? Have there been any difficulties so far?
AS: I consider Marcel Black a friend and I’m taking him out to breakfast next Thursday. The transition went easily because Marcel Black is an honorable gentleman who puts the good of the district above personal political ambition. He told me this week on the phone, “I may be a Democrat, but nobody is rooting for you like I will be the next four years.” Marcel Black and my opponent (Chad Young) both attended my investiture ceremony and Marcel spoke at it as well. As historic a win for Republicans as this campaign was, most people in the district aren’t concerned with the party affiliation of their Representative. They want honest, ethical representation and someone with a fire in their belly to improve the Shoals area.
CB: What are the top issues that you are the most passionate about tackling in your first term?
AS: My district needs an overpass at several railroad crossings. That’s my #1 infrastructure priority. Other than that I’m focused on bills that restore some of the freedoms and liberty we’ve lost as a society. I plan to sponsor a Constitutional Carry bill and a bill that eliminates red light traffic cameras in Alabama.
CB: Are there any bills that you have your eye on in the future or that have already been discussed so far that you are involved in?
AS: Yes, I am co-sponsoring the outdoor shelter bill that Representative Rex Reynolds is carrying this session. A big part of my campaign platform was animal cruelty issues and I plan to follow through with my promises to people who supported me for that reason. The bill simply requires a shelter with four sides, a roof, protection from the elements, and large enough for the animal to turn around in, for dogs and cats kept outside.
CB: Anything else about yourself that you would want people to know about?
AS: I have very much enjoyed being a State Representative already during the first two months of this quadrennium. I want everyone to know that I am working tirelessly to fulfill all of my campaign promises to the voters. Also, everyone in my district knew that I had promised my wife a kitten once the campaign was over. 2 days after we won she adopted Winston. Other than terrorizing our Christmas tree, he’s been a great addition to our family.