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New member profile: Rep. Patrick Sellers

Having served in ministry for more than 30 years, Rep. Patrick Sellers of Pleasant Grove said his decision to run for office was a simple matter of expanding the reach he could have serving his community.

Representing District 57, which includes Pleasant Grove, Hueytown and other communities west of Birmingham, Sellers won the Democratic primary election in June of 2022, and went on to defeat his Republican and Libertarian opponents that November in the general election with 65% of the vote.

Receiving a doctorate in ministry from Andersonville Theological Seminary in 2008, Sellers told Alabama Daily News he spent his entire adult life addressing the needs of his community as a pastor at both Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church and the Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church. 

As a freshman legislator, Sellers said he now wants to expand that service to both his district and across the state, particularly in the areas of improving affordable housing, supporting veterans, and preemptively and proactively reducing crime.

“Being in ministry for almost 30 years, dealing with citizens, dealing with people, I think I bring a level of wisdom and compassion in regards to the needs of our people,” Sellers said. “That’s what I deal with every single day.”

Regarding his priority of preventing crime, Sellers placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of what are known as wraparound services, which is a type of individualized care management for at-risk youths that was developed in the 1980s.

In 1968, the American economist Gary Becker developed what he called the economic theory of crime, a theory that argues crime is intrinsically linked with poverty, winning the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992 for his writings.

Approaching crime prevention from that perspective, Sellers said as a legislator, he would advocate for police departments and local municipalities to develop plans for community policing that lean toward providing resources for at-risk individuals as a means to help prevent crime from happening in the first place.

Sellers also told ADN that he was a supporter of eliminating or reducing the state’s sales tax on groceries, expanding Medicaid, and adequately funding the state’s public schools.

Beyond his ministry experience, Sellers served in the United States Army from 1990-1999, and as an orthopedic first assistant at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital from 1999-2005.

Sellers was appointed to three Alabama House committees: Commerce and Small Business, Insurance, and Local Legislation.

Q&A with Rep. Patrick Sellers *questions are paraphrased

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

“As I’ve served my community with my church, I look at (these) opportunities as an extension of service to our community. When we look at the lack of affordable housing, we look at the safety of our citizens, that’s just an extension of our service.

Q: What are some of your legislative priorities?

“Lack of affordable housing, taking care of our veterans (by) making sure resources are available to all veterans across Alabama, (and) the safety of our community (by) working with local elected officials and law enforcement to make sure that real developed crime plans are developed. Literacy for our kids, especially between grades K-3, early childhood, is (also) very important to me.”

Q: Could you speak more to your wish for police departments and local leaders to develop what you called a crime plan?

“Work with the local elected officials – your city councils and your mayors – along with law enforcement to develop a real crime plan to prevent crimes. Too many times, we are on the back end instead of on the front end. 

On the front end, a real developed crime plan would encompass community policing, connect with community leaders, and also offer wraparound services beforehand. Law enforcement has the data of those who are committing crimes, or likely to commit crimes, which is parallel with your school dropout rates. 

So when law enforcement (and) local elected officials come together to develop a real crime plan, they would have those wraparound services. They know who the people are, and so they’re able to get with them and offer those wraparound services. 

The wraparound services would be, (say) you need affordable housing; (wraparound services) would have that resource available. If you need to get a GED, if they need job placement, those resources need to be available.”

Q: What are some issues you see particularly in your district that you might like to address as a legislator?

“Within District 57, what I’ve seen is they have the have and have-nots on one side of the district. They have a relative sense of affluence, on the other side of the district it seems as if it doesn’t, and so one avenue is starting to look at affordable housing.

So here in Pleasant Grove, you still have vacant properties and lots that are still just sitting from the 2011 storm that came through. In the Birmingham area, you have dilapidated homes, vacant lots, burned down lots throughout. If we can corral and catalog those tax-delinquent properties, and start allowing that to become a resource, people can rebuild back into communities.”

Q: What are some other issues you’d like to address?

“Sentencing reform. We have a large population that is there for nonviolent crimes that could have alternative or different sentencing from those that have harsh crimes, that right there would reduce the incarceration rate.

(Also), there are areas in regards to transportation, not only just urban but rural, that (could) utilize one-time shots of resources for different projects that they may have, and that’s an urban and rural issue. So that’s just one area I think that some of the (budget) surplus could be utilized.

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