By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News
The Alabama State Senate welcomes a new face from District 32 for the first time since 2007.
Businessman and former Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliott, R-Daphne, replaces Sen. Trip Pittman, who did not seek re-election.
Elliott outlasted a crowded Republican primary field for the south Baldwin County seat, including a heated runoff with challenger David Northcutt. He then defeated Democratic nominee Jason Fisher in November.
Elliott said he’s brining his knowledge of local issues and business background to Montgomery.
He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and urban policy from the University of Richmond in Virginia and has worked in the past decade for several Republican candidates.
Elliott operates several businesses in South Alabama. He is president and owner of The Elliott Companies, Inc., which owns and operates ServiceMaster Restore franchises in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
He and his wife, Alainna, have two young children who attend public schools in Baldwin County.
Elliott has prefiled a bill, SB 23, that will seek to confine police and planning jurisdictions to corporate limits for municipalities and repeal provisions for business licenses and sales taxes outside corporate limits. According to Elliott, there is more support than originally anticipated for the legislation.
Baldwin County-based Senate District 32 covers one of the fastest growing areas in all of Alabama. It includes the Eastern Shore suburbs of Daphne, Fairhope and Spanish Fort as well as the coastal communities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. All told, Elliott will represent approximately 156,00 people in the State Senate.
Four questions with Elliott
Will Whatley: How do you think your education and background have prepared you for this position?
Sen. Chris Elliott: I think that my education prepared me well but that my time on the Baldwin County Commission has given me a leg up in understanding the issues. I come in with a certain breadth and depth of knowledge that some new legislators may not have. Also, coming from a fast-growing community with a lot of irons in the fire has given me the opportunity to work on various issues.
WW: What are the top issues that you want to tackle in your first term?
CE: We know the gas tax is coming. As much gas tax stays to improve infrastructure in coastal Alabama because we’re still seething from BP oil spill (settlement money distribution around the state). The prospect of gas tax that takes from counties generating revenue bothers me. We need to work with leadership, counties and cities to make sure we aren’t just talking about (gas tax revenue distribution based on) population.
… I am an economic development guy and believe it can strengthen communities. I’d like to continue to encourage economic developers.
I want to educate fellow legislators on issues affecting Baldwin County and coastal Alabama. I want to support the port of Alabama. These pay huge dividends for the state.
WW: Are there any bills that you have your eye on or that have already been discussed?
CE: Reasonable to say several of us are infrastructure minded in the Senate, waiting to see what the House will do.
I want to see economic developers continue to operate within an appropriate ethics bill.
I’m keenly interested in the joint transportation committee. There is a ton of money that goes to the Alabama Department of Transportation.
WW: Anything else about yourself that you would want people to know about?
CE: I have two small kids, they are the light of my life. I have a beautiful, professional wife (HR Director of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office)who is battling breast cancer. It’s a big part of our life right now but a lot of high energy, high activity stuff and she’s handling it. She is my hero.
I love my state and want it to improve but not at the expense of my constituents. It’s hard to forget about what happened with BP money so we’re keeping an eye on it.