By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
Newly elected state Rep. Andy Whitt, R-Harvest, wants to use his decades of experience in the banking industry to help Alabama businesses grow.
Whitt’s family has called north Alabama home for seven generations. Representing House District 6, which includes portions of Madison and Limestone counties, is Whitt’s first public office.
The seat was previously held by Rep. Phil Williams, R-Huntsville. He didn’t seek re-election in 2018.
Whitt started as a bank teller and worked his way up to senior vice president/Madison County executive for First National Bank. He oversees the bank’s presence and growth into the north Alabama market.
Whitt has also been heavily involved in his community through volunteer work, including at Elkwood Village, a special needs home. He’s an Athens Rotary Club Board member and local chamber of commerce member.
Since Whitt and his family have deep roots in north Alabama, he is passionate about going to Montgomery to properly represent the district. He will serve on the House’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee, Commerce and Small Business Committee, and Financial Services Committee.
Whitt says that one of his main focuses during the upcoming legislative session will be cutting red tape so that small businesses in Alabama are able to thrive. He’s working on a bill that would allow documents to be electronically signed and notarized online.
Eight Questions with Rep. Andy Whitt
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?
Rep. Andy Whitt: My desire to serve others led me to get involved in politics. Since childhood, I was taught the importance of hard work and taking time to always give back to the community that has blessed our family for years. I really don’t think that there was any one instance that prompted my decision to run for office. It was the culmination of years of volunteer work and seizing the opportunity to carry my skillset to the Alabama House of Representatives. As a community banker, I understand what it’s like for small business owners, the challenges of local government and the importance to work together for the common good.
CB: What is your favorite thing to do in your down time?
AW: Any down time that I have is usually spent with my family. We love to travel and have been blessed to see a large part of the U.S, as well as several foreign countries. We really enjoy taking old-fashioned road trips and exploring historical places. I’m lucky that although my children are teenagers, they still think it’s cool to go on road trip adventures with mom and dad.
CB: What is one thing that your constituents would be surprised to know about you?
AW: I think people would be surprised to know that I am an avid antique collector. I was a “picker” before it became popularized by TV shows. I began in my early teenage years collecting antique thermometers, signs and Case knives. This evolved into accumulating autographs, classic books, Browning shotguns and now classic cars. I think at last count I had over 1,500 autographs on books, bats and baseballs.
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?
AW: People would be surprised to know exactly how diverse District 6 really is. From the rural farmland of Limestone and north Madison counties, to the second largest research park in the country, District 6 is truly blessed with a wide variety of economic resources. Huntsville is known as the Rocket City and has set the stage for the United States space program. Cummings Research Park and HudsonAlpha are world renowned for their creativity, research and innovation.
CB: I also wonder if you could talk a little bit about your time working in the financial world and any experiences and knowledge you will take to the State House with you?
AW: Being a community banker for nearly 25 years has taught me many things. I believe having knowledge in business, balancing budgets and understanding the importance of living within one’s means will add a skillset that is often uncommon in today’s government. I’ve witnessed firsthand the struggles of small businesses and everyday, hard-working citizens. My soft skills, such as the ability to build relationships and have civil conversations, will also help make my work in the State House more productive.
CB: What are the top issues that you are the most passionate about tackling in your first term?
AW: Everyone is talking about our state’s infrastructure needs, and I completely agree that something has to be done. I, along with many Alabamians, view it as a crucial need of any current and future economic developments. While I’ve not seen any specific details, infrastructure funding must be addressed. I am also passionate about cutting red tape and making it easier to do business in Alabama. Let’s make sure that we support our local businesses and that the state is not seen as a burden or roadblock. Alabama is open for business and we want our citizens to have good-paying jobs.
CB: Are there any bills that you have your eye on in the future or that have already been discused so far that you are involved in?
AW: There are a few bills that I’ve looked at and that I’m currently working on or will support when presented. Going back to the ease of doing business, I am looking at a bill that would allow documents to be electronically signed and notarized online. If we can help speed up the process, stop inconveniencing the consumer’s time or travels, and make conducting business safe and easy; then it just makes sense.
CB: Anything else about yourself that you would want people to know about?
AW: The lack of opposition during the campaign and subsequent election has been extremely humbling for me and my family. I have the utmost respect for this office and the people of District 6. I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity.
Caroline Beck is a reporter living in Montgomery. You can reach her at Caroline@aldailynews.com or follower her on Twitter @CarolineBeckADN.