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House seat will be unfilled in 2022 session

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

An Alabama House seat will be vacant for more than a year after Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, resigns this fall.

Nordgren, who was elected Etowah County Revenue Commissioner last year will take over that office Oct. 1. She’ll vacate the House seat she was elected to in 2010 the same day.

But there won’t be a special election to replace her.

In 2018, lawmakers and state voters approved a constitutional amendment that says if a state House or Senate seat is vacated on or after October 1 of the third year of a four-year term, the seat would remain empty until the next regular election.

Nordgren told Alabama Daily News she pledged to voters last year not to leave her House position until Oct. 1.

“I made a campaign promise that I would not cost the state any additional dollars because of (revenue commissioner election),” she said. “It will save the state money and as a conservative, I’m always looking to save the state money.”

The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office estimates a special election to fill a seat in the Alabama Legislature costs between $120,000 and $150,000, the Decatur Daily previously reported.

The 2018 amendment as two special elections to the Legislature were immediately followed by general election cycles.

Former Sen. David Burkette was elected a total of six times in about one year to secure his state Senate seat representing Montgomery after former Sen. Quinton Ross became president of Alabama State University in early October 2017. Burkette resigned in August 2020 amid ethics investigations into his campaigns.

In north Alabama, Rep. Parker Moore, R-Hartselle, first ran in a special election cycle to replace Micky Hammon in the fall of 2017. After the special primary, runoff and general elections, he wasn’t seated until late May 2018, after the regular session had already ended. He immediately began campaigning against the same opponents in the regular 2018 session. However, the new law wouldn’t have applied to the Morgan County seat situation because Hammon was removed in September. Under the new law, a special election would still have been called.

Nordgren said back-to-back elections is financially burdensome on candidates.

She also said that in addition to her campaign promise, she didn’t want to leave the House seat prior to Oct. 1 in case Gov. Kay Ivey calls a special session on reapportionment before then.

“There needs to be someone representing District 29 on redistricting if they have a special session before October,” she said.

So far, there is one declared candidate looking to fill the House District 29 seat that includes Etowah County and portions of Calhoun and DeKalb counties.

Mark Gidley, a Republican from Hokes Bluff, raised about $8,000 last month, according to campaign finance records. Gidley, a pastor, said he wants to continue to be a strong conservative voice for the district. Gidley said he’s a lifelong resident of Etowah County.

“I feel a call to serve this area,” he said Thursday.

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