By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – State Rep. Victor Gaston, R-Mobile, the Speaker Pro Tem of the Alabama House of Representatives and one of the longest-serving members of the Legislature, will not seek reelection in 2022.
In an announcement Monday, Gaston said the timing was right to end his career in the Legislature and give others an opportunity to lead.
“Representing the citizens of west Mobile in the Alabama House has been my distinct honor and pleasure for the past 40 years, but the time has come to step off the public stage and pass the mantle of leadership to someone else,” Gaston said. “It is important to note that serving in this office for so many years was possible only because of the unconditional love, support, and commitment given to me by my late wife of 46 years, Jean, and my sons, Hank and George.”
First elected to the House in 1982, Gaston was one of only 11 Republicans – eight state representatives and three state senators – who served in the 140-member Alabama Legislature. In 1987, Speaker of the House Jimmy Clark appointed him as the only Republican committee chairman in the Democrat-dominated body and tapped him to lead the House State Government Committee, one of the four major legislative panels at that time.
After first defeating an incumbent Democrat, Gaston has run without an opponent in every subsequent campaign since 1986 and, according to his press release, holds the record for the longest unopposed election streak of any state legislator in the 16-state Southern Legislative Conference.
Praise and congratulations for a distinguished public service career came from Alabama’s top officials upon news of Gaston’s retirement.
Gov. Kay Ivey recalled that the Mobile lawmaker “stepped up to the plate” when leadership was needed, including serving as Acting Speaker of the House after the conviction of former Speaker Mike Hubbard.
“When I heard the news Rep. Gaston was not seeking reelection, I immediately thought about the fact that our state is better because of his many years of service,” Ivey said. “He has always stepped up to the plate when leadership was needed, and he will certainly leave big shoes to fill. I have known Victor for a long time and will always be proud to call him my friend.”
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon pointed to some of Gaston’s accomplishments in the Legislature, including reforms to Alabama’s higher education system and the law that significantly reduced traffic fatalities and injuries by doubling speeding fines in road construction zones.
“When his 40 years in the House comes to an end, Victor Gaston will leave Montgomery with the knowledge that Alabamians are more prosperous, safer, and better educated as a direct result of his public service,” McCutcheon said. “Equally important as his legislative accomplishments is his legacy as a mentor who offered wise advice to scores of newly elected legislators, and I am proud to be among those who learned from his example.
“Speaker Pro Tem Gaston’s legacy will loom large in the Alabama State House for many years to come.”
A native of Union Church in rural Mobile County, Gaston was raised on a family farm and later worked as an educator in Mobile while also earning a doctorate in education from Auburn University. He served both in the Marine Corps Reserves and the Alabama National Guard.
House District 100 includes portions of west Mobile including Airport Boulevard. There are no announced candidates for the seat and the deadline for qualifying is January 28.