1. While you have been active around Montgomery for quite some time, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Primary occupation? Interests? Hobbies?
I grew up in Montgomery and graduated from Jeff Davis HS before going to Auburn for college. I married Allen in 1986 who, at the time, was a pediatrician in Mobile. In 1991, we came back to Montgomery and, together, we started his solo practice allergy clinic.
In addition to helping run the office, I’ve been involved with education in Montgomery since the early 2000’s and served on the Montgomery Board of Education from 2006-2012. I’m also involved with the local Republican Party and Allen and I both have served on the county and state executive committees. Today, I am the current treasurer (and past president) of the Republican Club of Central Alabama. I enjoy working to get good people elected to office, and have campaigned across Alabama and Florida to support Republican candidates in the last several years.
My hobbies are cooking, reading, taking care of my yard and travel. With Allen’s position as the incoming President of the American college of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology we were privileged to travel to Germany and Nairobi last year in conjunction with allergy training in those areas.
2. What prompted you to consider running for House District 74 this year?
After running unsuccessfully for this seat in the special election in 2013, I still felt like I could help to solve some of the problems in Montgomery from a state level. With my experience in education, and the fact that our number one concern in Montgomery is education, I believe I am the right person for this seat. I have seen firsthand how changes in education policy can change the lives of children and the families that love them. We can’t expect our state to move up in student achievement by doing the same things we’ve always done. We have to change to focus on what makes a student achieve at higher levels. I am committed to bringing the voices of students and their families to the State House.
3. How will your background help you serve in the legislature and what will be some of your priorities?
My accounting and business administration degrees, as well as my background in medicine and small business, and my experience in education policy will enable me to be up to speed on both the education and general fund budgets, as well as many other committees in the State House. My work as an education advocate allowed me to spend a lot of time in the State House between 2013 and 2016, including working directly with the Alabama Legislative Reference service, the office that actually researches and writes the legislation that comes before the legislators. My priorities will always be to first have a balanced budget that prioritizes the needs of Alabama and district 74 over the wants and treats each entity fairly.
I will also work to improve the level of student achievement in Alabama by encouraging better teacher training and specific professional development for teachers and finding ways to keep excellent teachers in the classroom instead of moving up into administration. We also need to have a focus on students being ready for a career when they finish high school; this is accomplished through career pathways in middle/high school, dual enrollment and certification classes.
4. What do you believe are some health-related issues important to your district and/or your constituents?
One of the biggest problems in Alabama and District 74 is that those who need Mental Health services are not able to get it. Because our funding in AL is so low, we have fewer physicians willing to live in Alabama and offer counseling and mental health services. I am very concerned that many people in our prisons and jails are there because they did not get appropriate mental health treatment before they crossed a line. I am also hearing from constituents about their interest in legalizing medical marijuana. This would be a topic that I would particularly want to hear from physicians on their thoughts on the issue of using the drug for medical use and how that would impact doctors and their patients.
5. If you could change anything about our state’s health care system, what would it be?
Change the GPCI so that Alabama physician’s get paid on par with Georgia and Florida. Also, Medicaid should be adequately funded.
6. How can the Medical Association – and physicians statewide – help address Alabama’s health challenges?
Advocate more to the legislature – pay attention to the Rotunda and get to know your state representative and state senators. All politics is local and physicians should be leaders in advocating for the change they want to see. Physicians should be willing to work with legislators on task forces to improve access to mental health care, research marijuana legalization, and participate with MASA in lobbying for the changes they need to continue to practice medicine in Alabama.
7. If there is one thing you could say to physicians in your district before the election, what would it be?
Thank you for your support and make sure you vote in this election and every election. I know it’s difficult for physicians who work 12- and 14-hour days to prioritize voting, but each vote really is critical and the people that represent all of us must be willing to listen as well as work to solve the problems that MD’s face each day. I will be that person, and I need each voter to go to the polls on Tuesday, June 11th.