Supporting legislation dealing with "divisive concepts" being taught in schools and helping her district deal with the effects of rapid population growth are two issues incoming State Rep. Jennifer Fidler (R-Silverhill) plans to focus on as a new legislator.
Fidler told 1819 News in a recent interview that her interest in politics and running for elected office started after she retired from her full-time career in local government in 2018.
"I guess I probably had a vague interest at maybe a point in my life, but once I retired, I really didn't think that would've been something I'd be interested in," Fiddler said. "I kind of thought now that I've given my best years for service…my youngest years, my 20s and my 30s, I'm going to actually concentrate on making some money (and) go into business. I started really watching the politics on the news media because part of my retirement was going to be moving some of my investments around. Kind of looking at the stock market and kind of making wise decisions on where to move it. I knew I had to watch news media to do that."
According to her campaign site, Fidler graduated from Robertsdale High School in 1988. She attended Faulkner State Junior College and then attended Auburn University, where she obtained a degree in ornamental horticulture in 1992. Before graduating college and at age 22, she started working for the City of Eufaula as their first arborist and horticulturist. She began and built Eufaula's first horticultural and arboriculture program. Fidler completed a master's degree in education at Troy State in Phenix City in 2001. In 2001, Fidler began serving as Fairhope's Public Works Director, where she led the streets, construction, landscaping, horticulture, and sanitation services. She served on the City of Fairhope Planning Commission from 2007 to 2017. In 2017, she worked for the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization at Baldwin County. Fidler retired in 2018 from public service.
In addition to her public sector career, Fidler started Fidler Consulting in 2018 to offer landscape expertise and support to small communities. Her husband, Reagan Scroggins, owns WillyT's Restaurant in Robertsdale.
Fidler said in 2020, she "realized that there was a big divide in what I was hearing on the national news media and what was actually coming off the President's podium."
Fidler told 1819 News that "one of the things that I was curious about was our response to the vaccine mandate" in the fall of 2021.
"It was September 2021, and we had a mandate for our vaccinations for people who had to work," Fidler said. "I strongly disagreed with that because I was knowledgeable about my cousin who had an adverse reaction, and I did not feel like it was appropriate or right for people to be mandated health-wise to take something that they were not comfortable with for their bodies or their health to be able to work."
"There was legislation passed concerning that which saved another cousin who was going to have to take it," Fidler said. "He just couldn't take it. His fiance was the one that stayed in the ICU for 3.5 (to) 4 days. They didn't know if she was going to live or die. He just couldn't take it. He was going to have to lose his job. He'd already had COVID. He didn't feel like it was right for his body or his health. His fiance nearly died from an adverse reaction."
She defeated incumbent State Rep. Joe Faust (R-Fairhope) in the May primary for the House District 94 seat.
"When I ran, I decided I wasn't running against him because I loved him," Fidler told 1819 News. "I thought he was in there for some good reasons, and he'd served us well. I just felt like that we just happened to be in the same race, and I was going to try to run a little bit faster and harder."
She won the general election in November against a Libertarian Party opponent. Fidler said two of the major issues she heard about from voters while campaigning was the direction the country was going in nationally and the challenges the local area has been dealing with from high population growth.
"We're one of the fastest growing areas in the state of Alabama," Fidler said. "The biggest thing was they wondered if we have the infrastructure needed to match the growth rate that we're experiencing. Now, we have so many people on these two-lane roads, and it's difficult to get anywhere very quickly. Some of our short travel times have doubled, and, you know, you have a speed limit of 45 mph, and everyone is going 35 mph because of the sheer number of cars that are on the roadway. We need more roads. We need more schools. We need sewer. It's all the infrastructure. It's not just road infrastructure. We're bursting at the seams in a lot of different areas."
Fidler is a member of the Urban & Rural Development, City & County Government, Public Safety & Homeland Security, and Local Legislation committees.
State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) has recently said he's looking to tackle the issue of "divisive concepts," like critical race theory (CRT), being taught in schools again in the upcoming session. Oliver said he expects legislation on the topic to pass easily.
"I've kind of mentioned some of the things I saw going on nationally that kind of got me concerned and piqued my interest in politics," Fidler said. "One was the divisiveness that I was seeing that if you're a certain color or race that, you're either superior or inferior to someone else. I just think that really teaches divisiveness. I think that we're just one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. We say it every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance, and I don't understand why and how we can be so divided on color or race, and I feel like that we've just got to get away from that. When a child has to be told the things that make them think somebody is different from them…they don't see color. You think back to when you were a kid. There wasn't a color. You're friends with who you're friends with. We're teaching divisiveness, and I think that's wrong. That's one of the things that I am opposed to. I know there was a bill by Ed Oliver. He's working on sponsoring this bill again. I know it went to the House last year, and I'm interested in getting behind that and helping with this legislation."
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