Incumbent Republican Joe Lovvorn will seek a full term as the representative for District 79 in the Alabama House of Representatives in Tuesday's general election.
Lovvorn, a firefighter for the Auburn Fire Division, has served two years after winning a special election for the seat in 2016.
During those two years, Lovvorn was able to secure an appointment to the Education Ways and Means Committee, which he sees as a major accomplishment.
"I worked to become a member of the Education Ways and Means committee, which is important not only for the community of Auburn, but with Auburn University in our district, having a seat at that table is very important," he said. "I’ve also worked to pass bills that invest back in our people, which I feel are our best resource in Alabama, and education is our way of improving the quality of life, improving the workforce and just improving everything in Alabama."
Lovvorn added that he's supported legislation that helped rural areas and school systems in the district that do not have the same municipal tax base Auburn and Lee County enjoy.
"One example was this past session we allocated funds and allowed for some technology funds to be used for safety and security because a lot of school systems had a true concern for the safety of the school," he said. "Every school system is different, so giving that allowance, more of that local control of the funding is important.
"As far as the equity of the spending and the opportunities, it goes beyond the education budget and committee. We have to really make sure that they have a vibrant economy locally and create jobs for the people living in those areas. That’s how we improve and lift the entire area."
Lovvorn also touted how the committee allocated funding for broadband credits for companies that invested in rural communities that lacked those services.
"I think more programs with public-private partnerships to get those investments in those areas will be a key going forward," he said.
As far as education funding is concerned, Lovvorn said he would be supportive of a referendum on a lottery in the state.
"I would be supportive of allowing the people to vote," he said, noting that it would only be another revenue component. "We’d have to think about what kind of problems it would create and how we’ll address those as well.
"When you dig down deep in discussion with someone who’s for it, they're very concerned with how you structure that lottery as well."
Lovvorn didn't take a hard position on the possibility of Medicaid expansion, but noted that it is the governor's decision to make.
"I think it’s important we get an idea from Washington what their plans are going forward because our medical system has become so dependent on the Medicaid programs," he said. "We’ve got to take a serious look going forward on how to take advantage of those federal dollars, but also continuing to create jobs and employment where we lower the list of people who are actually applying for that aid, which will help stabilize some of the system to help with the spending portion of it."
He did note one effort by the legislature he supported that provided incentives to doctors to set up shop in rural areas, which have seen an exodus of doctors and hospitals over the past several years.
"Our rural hospitals are important; our rural medicine is important. We passed an incentive the past couple years to incentivize doctors that will go to rural areas because your doctors’ offices, your hospitals, they are the lifeblood of these small communities."
If elected to a full term, Lovvorn said continuing to find ways to invest in people would be his main focus, citing a bill he supported last session that helped teachers who stayed in Alabama pay off a portion of their student loans as an example. He also said creating an infrastructure plan for the state would be an important priority.
"We will have some type of infrastructure package from Washington at some point, and we will need to make sure that we have a plan and tax dollars of matching funds to be able to make those investments," he said.
For more information about Lovvorn, visit his website at www.joelovvorn.com.