BY SAYLOR CUZZORT, Alabama Daily News
Newly elected Rep. Troy Stubbs of Wetumpka is taking his triad of experiences as a small business owner, county commissioner and math teacher to the Alabama State House.
Currently, Stubbs works as a financial advisor at First Community Bank of Central Alabama and is the small business owner of Frios Gourmet Pops in downtown Wetumpka. Before being elected to the Alabama House of Representatives, Stubbs served as the chair of the Elmore County Commission.
Stubbs attended the United States Air Force Academy for three semesters before serving a two-year volunteer mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in St. Petersburg, Russia. After returning home, he enrolled at the University of Alabama and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in finance. Stubbs continued his education, earning a master’s degree in sports administration from the University of Louisville and a master’s degree in secondary mathematics from Alabama State University.
“Troy Stubbs is without a doubt the most competent leader I have ever worked with,” Mac Daugherty, vice-chairman of the Elmore County Commission, said. “He is proficient, professional, very intellectual, highly educated and could not be more community-minded or passionate.”
Stubbs has been assigned to the House’s Commerce and Small Business Committee, County and Local Governments Committee and the House education budget committee —all areas he says are within his education and workforce background.
“County commissioners, city council members, and mayors are the closest level of government to the people, and they have a lot of insight and knowledge as to what communities need,” Stubbs told Alabama Daily News. “Now, on the state level, I want to make sure that we are listening to them and doing things to help them help the people we are elected to serve.”
As the son of two educators and a former mathematics teacher himself, Stubbs plans to utilize his firsthand experience to prioritize education while serving on the House education budget committee.
“Being a part of the solution for improving education in Alabama is one of my priorities in this role,” Stubbs said. “The state of Alabama is very diverse in education and socio-economic circumstances, and there is not a one-size-fits all option out there to improve education; however, I think educators and education professionals in communities know best what their community and their students need.”
House District 31 represents northern Elmore County including Wetumpka, Eclectic and parts of Deatsville and Tallassee. Former Rep. Mike Holmes held the seat since 2014, but did not seek reelection in 2022. Stubbs won the GOP primary in May and was unopposed in the general election.
Two years ago, Stubbs said, his family encountered its first experience with a significant health challenge when his youngest son was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. As a result, the family now travels more than an hour to see a pediatric endocrinologist — a task Stubbs recognizes is not ideal for everyone.
“Bringing services to the people, rather than making people travel one, two, or three hours to get those services, is something that I would like to see changed in the state of Alabama,” Stubbs said. “It is important to find a way to ensure that we have medical professionals willing to work and serve in those communities. Then, we can look at ways to incentivize and encourage them to take up shop or open a practice in some of these areas to give people greater access to the services they need.”
Q & A with Rep. Troy Stubbs
Q: Your personal background — between growing up in different places and your educational experiences like the Air Force Academy and travel abroad— is unique. How did you come to decide to call Alabama home?
“Around 2000, my father was a football coach at the University of Alabama, and I was a student at the University of Alabama. With that I obviously grew to love the area. I met my now wife, Jenny, at the University of Alabama, and she was born and raised in Wetumpka. As a young married couple, we moved around across the southeastern United States for various job opportunities, but in 2009, we decided to settle and raise our children in Wetumpka.”
Q: You were assigned to the House education budget committee — that’s a very high-profile committee. What is your particular interest in that committee?
“My parents are both educators, and I have a passion for education. In fact, I am a certified math teacher in the state of Alabama. I taught math at a local high school for four years, so I have first-hand experience as an educator in Alabama and a passion for ensuring our children are prepared for whatever opportunities and challenges they may face in the future.”
Q: On your campaign website, about education you said educators are not given the necessary tools to be successful, and families are not given a choice in the education of their children. What are the fixes there?
“They’re certainly not just one fix. The more we can do to empower teachers and local education leaders, the better outcome we will get. Regarding parental involvement, I think it is certainly a priority for parents to be involved in their children’s education while also being supportive of the education professionals working diligently to provide these students with what they need.”
Q: School choice expansion will likely come up in this year’s session. “School choice” is a broad term, but what might you support? Should tax dollars be used to pay private school tuition?
“Well, it is certainly a broad term, but it is an important point of discussion. Many people in our state and throughout the country use the term “school choice,” but it means something different for many people. First and foremost, we have to make sure that whatever we do is to accomplish a specific goal, which is to improve and prepare our young people for the opportunities and challenges they will face in the future. As long as that is the priority, then we can come up with a school choice option that is flexible enough to meet the needs of our diverse state. There are so many factors that come into school choice, transportation, the opportunity for students to move from one location to another, whether money goes to private schools or not, and whether certain private schools get money, but others don’t based on different factors. I mean, there are so many things to unpack there, but we’ve got to make sure that whatever we do is to prepare our young people for those opportunities and challenges in the future.”
Q: You’re also on the Commerce and Small Business Committee and County and Local Governments committees. You have experience in both those areas, as a small business owner and a county commissioner. What are your goals for yourself on those committees?
“I was the chairman of the Elmore County commission for six years. I saw firsthand the positive things that can happen with a government that is so close to the people.
From a small business perspective, my family has owned a small business. We endured the pandemic as small business owners. We saw some challenges we didn’t choose but were forced upon us. We rallied together with other small business owners to navigate those challenges and overcome them. The pandemic showed the resiliency of the entrepreneur and the small business owner; they are very capable of solving problems. And as state leaders, we need to do a great job listening to them because they’re running their own small businesses, they’re overcoming challenges every single day, and they’re very capable of doing that. We have an opportunity to tap into that knowledge and experience if we’re willing to do that.”
Q: You and your wife started your own business, a Frios Gourmet Popsicles franchise. You also campaigned on free enterprise. Do you think the state could do more to help entrepreneurs?
“Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They recognize a weakness or an inefficiency in the local economy or something that’s missing, and they solve that problem. If we empower them from a state government standpoint, encourage them, and provide them with the training and support they may need, then that is how the state could be involved. The less red tape, the fewer hurdles we put in front of them, and the more encouraging we will be to those willing to step out, take a chance and be small business owners and entrepreneurs. We don’t want people to choose not to do that or not chase their dreams because we are inhibiting them.”
Q: Throughout your campaign, you said there are glaring health care inadequacies, particularly in rural areas. What have you seen in Elmore County?
“Luckily, Elmore County has access to health care services, but many of our residents have to travel for those services. Some people have the ability to do that, while others do not have the ability to travel, whether it be health restrictions or just challenges with transportation.
Our family experienced my youngest son, who’s now 10, being diagnosed with type one diabetes when he was 8 years old. So, it was our family’s first experience with a significant health challenge, and we have to travel over an hour and a half to go to a pediatric endocrinologist. We are blessed to be able to have the time and the means necessary to do that, but not everyone does.”
Q: Medical provider groups and associations have asked for years for Medicaid expansion in Alabama. It’s not up to the Legislature, but do you think Medicaid expansion would be the right move, especially for rural areas? Or are there other ways to help providers in rural areas?
“Medicaid expansion is certainly a topic that has been and will continue to be a topic of discussion. I think there are many factors at play there. Whether or not (expanding Medicaid) would increase access to rural areas, I don’t know the answer. Still, I will say that the better job we do of providing our people with access to health care, the greater quality of life, which will translate to a stronger workforce and a better economy —all of those things will fall in line. The health, well-being and education of our people are the lifeblood of the state.”
Q: What are the biggest challenges in your district, what would you like the Legislature to do to address them?
“Well, like all communities, we have our own set of challenges. A glaring challenge brought to light with the pandemic was our lack of broadband and internet access in our rural areas. We certainly have pockets of our county that have either no access or minimal access to the internet. That’s one area that I know the state is already making tremendous progress on, but I hope to be a part of that moving forward.
Health care is another area I would like to see some additional services to meet the needs of our growing population. In Elmore County, education is a priority. We have a great public school system here, we have several smaller private schools here that do a great job and we have a homeschooling community. I just want to do what I can to help support all of them and ensure that the young people in Elmore County are provided with opportunities to be successful.”
Q: Do you have any legislation you hope to sponsor or co-sponsor in the upcoming session?
“There are certainly lots of ideas running through my head. We do have some topics of discussion in Elmore County that could be addressed in this legislative session. One being the need for additional judges in Elmore County but, more importantly, in the 19 Judicial Circuit, which serves Chilton, Autauga, and Elmore counties. Our judges have full dockets. They work diligently but based on all the numbers I’ve seen statewide, we are short at least one circuit judge, probably two circuit judges in the district. I want to find a way to make sure that we have what we need to serve the people of the county and this judicial circuit.”