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New member profile: Rep. Leigh Hulsey

By Ainsley Platt, Alabama Daily News

Former Helena City Council member Leigh Hulsey became the state representative for Alabama House District 15 this year after redistricting moved her out of the district she narrowly lost in a year and a half ago.

Hulsey ran in the 2021 special election for the House District 73 seat, losing the GOP primary runoff by 63 votes to now-Rep. Kenneth Paschal. After the election, Hulsey told the Alabama Daily News that regardless of how the lines were drawn during the 2021 redistricting, she intended to run again in 2022. Before being elected as a state representative, Hulsey served on Helena’s City Council for 14 years – experience that she said she intends to draw upon in her new role.

Hulsey said she’s a devout Christian and felt that God had called her to be a public servant in 2008, leading her to run for the Helena City Council. In addition to her legislative role, she also owns CrossFit Alabaster – an endeavor she credits with her interest in health and nutrition.

House District 15’s shape changed dramatically during redistricting. It originally was U-shaped, circling the southwestern end of the Birmingham metro area, with its northernmost areas in Pleasant Grove and its easternmost in Helena. After redistricting, its northern section was removed, and the district now stretches further east into Hoover.

Former Rep. Allen Farley, R-Bessemer, did not seek reelection to the seat after three terms. Husley defeated fellow Republican Brad Tompkins in May and Democrat Richard Rouco in November to earn her spot in the State House.

Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-Indian Springs, said Hulsey has built a career on service to others as a business owner, elected official and volunteer.

“Leigh will bring vast local knowledge, experience and expertise to the Alabama Legislature,” Mooney said. “We are blessed to have her working with us in the Shelby County House Delegation.”

Q&A with Hulsey

Q: Your path to the state house was a bit longer than others’. When did you realize your district had been changed under the new maps and when did you decide to run for House District 15? 

“I decided to run again for the state house immediately after I lost the [2021] runoff. I knew that this is where the Lord was leading me. I just wasn’t quite sure what that path was going to look like. I was open to whatever lines he drew for me, and trusted that if that meant he wanted me serving the people in that previous district, that’s where I would be drawn into or or would be left. But if he wanted me to represent a different area, then he would be the one that would draw those lines for me through that legislative process, obviously. But I knew that this was where the Lord was leading me from the very beginning. So I had made that decision prior to knowing what district I would ultimately be in. And I paid attention throughout the entire process.” 

Q: You’re a business owner, a former Helena City Council member and a mom of three. How will these roles shape you as a policymaker?

Well, first and foremost, I think I’m very thankful to be coming into this process with local legislative experience. I think that taught me my role very well, and built a good foundation for me. It taught me the importance of working with other individuals to get things accomplished for the greater good of those that you serve. So I think that that experience will help me feel more competent coming into this just right out of the gate. Obviously, I still will have a lot to learn, as you know, the functions are the same, but the process is still a little bit different. You go from working with four other council members to working with 104. So that obviously changes the dynamic a little bit. 

As far as the business owner goes, and I think honestly, even my legislative experience, I think both of those jobs have taught me how important it is to be fiscally conservative, to keep yourself out of debt. Anytime it is at all possible to think about how anything you’re doing, I don’t care what it is, whether I’m making policy for the local body that I serve, or the local city that I served, or a policy that impacts the clients that I serve. It’s weighing those pros and cons and knowing how to reach a as as best you can a good decision with minimal to no unintended consequences, and being able to provide a better service or a better future or better tomorrow for the people that you serve, or your clients, I mean, you’re serving them, whether they’re constituents or clients.

I think as a mom,  at the end of the day, what I want is to be an example. And this is for anybody, but for my children, to know that if you work hard, and you treat people well, and you do those things with integrity, that you can hold your head high, I don’t care what you’re doing, you’re you make mistakes, but you also have successes and wins in that time.” 

Q: When did you first feel the need to run for office?

It was early 2008. …There were some things that I wasn’t pleased with that I was seeing. And I felt that I could make a positive change or a positive impact. And, you know, as I started to notice those things, I just felt like the Lord kept putting those on my mind, I really just couldn’t get it out of my head that this is where I’m supposed to go. And so I really felt called to public service, early 2008. For that city council role.”

Q: What do you see as the biggest issues facing your district and what can you and your legislative colleagues do to address them? 

“I think the things that stuck out the most for me, at the time, abortion was definitely on the table, but you had Roe vs. Wade going on and I think now that that kind of has gone through its process, and we have some legislation in place, that has died down in terms of the feedback that I get. Second to that would have been school choice. And the third thing that was most consistent would be infrastructure. So particularly roads, when you talk about infrastructure. 

… My district seems a little divided on school choice, but I still think there is some happy medium somewhere in there that can work. It’s just really doing our homework and making sure that we look to those that have already done it, learning from their mistakes, learning from their successes, listening to our constituents, and taking action once we know that we have weighed all of those, all those details. 

And as  for infrastructure, that is always just a challenging piece. Because it is, you know, often it’s with a partnership with counties or municipalities, it can be multiple counties that are partnering on projects. And so those, those become a little more interesting, just because you’re working outside of you, if it’s just your government round, that’s easier to navigate. But once you have partners from other governing agencies, it becomes a little bit more challenging, but I think just being diligent to one, make your connections, develop good, strong relationships with those agencies, and then, you know, be that squeaky wheel that continues to fight for the people that chose to say, ‘Hey, you’re what we think is best for this district, get out and do some good work for us.’ So I think it’s, that one’s a little bit, it can be collaborative, for sure. But I think that one is a little bit different, because there’s so many other parts that play into that one.”

Q: What committees are you hoping to serve on?

My top three would probably be transportation, health, and general fund ways and means.” 

Q: Any particular reason for those?

I love budgeting. So that one’s easy. I’ve done that for the last 14 years on the municipal level. I felt like it was something that I was very good at. Transportation – there’s just a lot of infrastructure needed for Jefferson and Shelby County. And I feel like that’s just an important one for my district. You don’t go [to the State House] for the things that you love, you go there for the things that matter to your people. So transportation has kind of come to the forefront for me because I feel like it’s an important thing for my district. 

Health is one that I just am interested in anyway because of my own background. I don’t work in the medical field, but I work, you know, for the last 10 I’ve owned a CrossFit gym, and I’ve worked in health, approaching treatment through nutrition and exercise. So it’s just something I’m passionate about anyway. And I feel like I bring a different perspective to the table. When it comes to health, we often think about medicine and doctors. But you know, if COVID taught us anything, it was that our nutrition and exercise can play a very vital role in fighting disease.” 

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