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New member profile: Rep. Mark Gidley

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In the small town of Glencoe, Southeast of Gadsden, Pastor Mark Gidley led his congregation at Faith Worship Center for 20 years. Today, Gidley represents Alabama District 29 as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives.

Gidley told Alabama Daily News it was his wish to serve his community that ultimately led him to make a bid for office.

“When this seat actually come open here for this particular district, I felt very strong (that) it was my time to step up to the plate and do what I’ve asked others to do and serve the people of my community and my state,” Gidley said.

Gidley narrowly won a contested Republican primary election in May of 2022, securing 50.5% of the vote against his opponent Jamie Grant. Gidley went on that November to win the general election with 94.2% of the vote. Gidley succeeds former District 29 Rep. Becky Nordgren, who announced in 2021 that she would not seek reelection.

Beyond his ministry experience, Gidley has also spent 21 years working in the insurance industry, having left that career years ago to pursue a career in ministry full time. He earned a master’s degree from Pentecostal Theological Seminary and now wants to use his professional and religious experience to better serve both his district and the state at large.

“My values are not just based on the fact that I’m a pastor, my values are based on my belief of the validity of God’s word in the establishment of this nation upon those biblical principles,” Gidley said. “Not to not to push religion at all down someone’s throat, but to say our nation was founded on biblical principles and it’s those biblical principles that I believe have made this nation as great as it is.”

As far as priorities, Gidley said allocating the state’s budget surplus of approximately $2.7 billion would rank near the top of his list, followed closely by expanding workforce development resources.

Gidley was appointed to three House committees: Education Policy, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Commerce and Small Business.

Q&A with Rep. Mark Gidley *questions are paraphrased

Q: What was your biggest motivation in running for office?

“Well, the largest motivator is very simple: simply to serve. I have been very involved in the political arena locally for a number of years, and I always encourage people to be involved in their community. So when this seat actually come open here for this particular district, I felt very strong (that) it was my time to step up to the plate and do what I’ve asked others to do and serve the people of my community and my state.

Then of course it goes further than that, I believe that we have a great state – Alabama as far as I’m concerned is the greatest state in the nation. We have values and I felt like it’s important that I stepped up to the plate to not only serve, but also to promote and stand for the values that I believe Alabama’s made of.”

Q: What are some of your legislative priorities?

We know that some of the things we’ve got (to do) are going forward with both our general budget and our Education Trust Fund, we do have surpluses in those areas, and I think that’s a pretty widely known fact.

So, how are we going to distribute that? How are we going to be wise and mindful as we go forward to use the extra funds we have currently to help our state? Then when it comes to education, how are we going to use those funds to promote positive things in the education realm? How that’s gonna play out, I don’t, but I do know we have an opportunity to bring some positive things in helping out the constituents of our state.

One of the things that’s been very important for me is education; the next generation is the backbone of our entire society, so we must keep those things strong.

I’ve (also) talked a lot about workforce development and what an opportunity that is for the next generation of workforce, what great privileges we have through our community college system to provide great opportunities in the workforce development area. 

So that’s something else I know that I want to look at, to keep strong and then to hand our teachers and our educators across the spectrum of our state, the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.”
Q: Where do you land on the issue of school choice, or allowing funds earmarked for public education to follow students to public charter schools, private schools or homeschooling?

“Well there’s no doubt that school choice is going to be an issue that is going to come up, and I think it’s important that we look at school choice. I fully support our public education and I’m gonna do that, (but) I’m also in full support of parents having the ability to choose what they feel like is the best path for their child’s education.

So I think we’ve got to look at all of that and I think we need to make sure that first thing first, we do what’s best for our students, what best represents the best quality education that our children can get.

We don’t need to tear down one thing to build something else. We need to keep all of our entities strong. And so going forward, I think what we’ve got to do is look at what’s best for the education of our children across the board.

Q: Are there any issues particular to your district that you’d like to address as a legislator?

“Well back to education, I have met with some of the educators here, and one of the things I have talked about is helping with providing extra support staff, especially for public education. That’s something that I think we’ve got to look at based on talking to them, (improving their) support staff such as assistant principals. So one of the things I’m hoping we can accomplish going forward is to to deal with that issue.

This week, I was in a meeting with retired employees, retired state employees and retired teachers at the county courthouse. One of the issues that I’ve heard from several constituents in my district and from this meeting is cost of living advancements for some of our retired personnel, which based on what I understand, they have not gotten that cost of living (advancement).

So I think that’s important that we address that, especially while we possibly have the funds to do that. 

I am very pro life, so the pro life message I think is another message that is very strong for the constituents of my area. Maintaining our biblical values are family values is another thing that’s very important I think to the people in my area, and making sure that our religious freedoms are protected, that our First Amendment rights are protected. All of those things I think are very important issues in the minds of people as we go forward.

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