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New member profile: Rep. Matt Woods

Employing more than 800,000 people,  small businesses are a cornerstone of Alabama’s economy. One small business owner, Matt Woods, is hoping to promote business-friendly policies as the new representative for Alabama House District 13.

Woods, a self-described conservative Republican, family man and outdoor enthusiast, won the highly contested Republican primary election in May, 2022. Woods went on to win the general election that November, defeating his Libertarian opponent with more than 94% of the vote.

District 13 covers much of north and east Walker County, including Jasper. The seat was previously held by Rep. Connie Rowe, who assumed office in 2014 and resigned to serve in Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth’s administration.

Woods, along with his father, Jim Woods, owns Jasper Auto Sales. A graduate of Oakman High School and Auburn University, Woods received his designation as a certified master dealer through the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association in 2014.

Woods has worked with a number of different civic groups, including the Walker County Chamber of Commerce, the Walker County Youth Leadership Program and the Walker College Foundation. 

Woods is also the president of the Hope After Loss Organization, a nonprofit that provides support for families who have experienced the loss of a child. The group was formed by Woods’ wife of 17 years after the loss of their first child.

As a freshman legislator, Woods said he hopes to apply his fiscally conservative values to his decision making on everything from allocating surplus funds to economic incentive bills.

He has also been appointed to five State House committees: Rules, Education Policy, Ethics and Campaign Finance, Urban and Rural Development, and Local Legislation.

Q&A with Woods *questions are paraphrased

Q: What motivated you to run for office?

“I have always been involved in my community through various civic engagements. I love finding solutions to problems and we have plenty of problems that need solving both in my district and across the state. 

As a small business owner I understand the challenges that others like me face every day and I want to make sure we are promoting policies that will allow us to operate efficiently.”

Q: What are your biggest legislative priorities for this upcoming session?

“This session we are faced with an unprecedented budget surplus. We also will have to appropriate the remaining $1.1 billion in American Rescue Plan funds. My No. 1 priority is making sure we take a fiscally conservative approach to these allocations by returning as much as possible to the taxpayers. 

We are all being hurt by runaway inflation and anything the state can do to provide relief will be paramount. We also have an opportunity to address some needed infrastructure investment by utilizing the ARPA funds which have provisions for broadband and water and sewer projects. I have seen the positive results being achieved through the Growing Alabama Act and the Alabama Jobs Act. I would like to see these renewed and possibly expanded.”

Q: What are some of the biggest issues you see in your district, and how might you be able to address them?

“In District 13 we have a lot of needs. We are much like other parts of rural Alabama in that our rural areas are becoming more rural. That hurts our ability to fund education, to fund our road and bridge projects, and retain our workforce talent.

People often look surprised when I tell them population decline is one of our biggest issues in Walker County. We have to take steps to ensure our people stay here by providing a safe community, recruit good paying jobs and give them reasons to stay by attracting additional retail and recreational opportunities. 

I have always been a supporter of education and I believe we can help ourselves in District 13 by providing employers what they need, a well trained and highly credentialed workforce.”

Q: What is some of your personal and professional experience that you feel will help influence your decision making as a state House representative?

“I am a family man, having been married for almost 18 years to my wife Brandi. We have a 13-year-old daughter that attends public school. I am a product of Walker County, the son and grandson of hard-working, blue-collar, underground coal miners. I understand where we have been as a region of the state and what it will take to prepare for a strong future. 

I am a product of our public school system and want to support policies that will encourage student success. My working career has been in automotive retail, (and) I get to stay in touch with my constituents from every walk of life by engaging with them at my business and learning about the challenges they are facing in their everyday lives. 

When the local economy is good, my business is good. When things are down, I feel that as well. I think it uniquely qualifies me to stay engaged in the issues that affect my district and our state.”

Q: Of the committee assignments you’ve received, are there any that you are particularly excited about?

“I appreciate Speaker (Nathaniel) Ledbetter placing his confidence in me to serve on five standing committees. I am excited to serve on each of them and plan on working hard to make meaningful contributions. 

“… My background having served as a trustee with the Alabama Community College System will give me a unique perspective while serving on Education Policy. We face many issues in all levels of education so I am excited to be a part of that committee. I am also honored to serve on the Rules Committee. I try to be a logical and reasonable decision maker and I believe that approach would serve me well as a member of the Rules Committee.”

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