New State Rep. Kerry Underwood (R-Tuscumbia) is hoping to use his certified public accountant (CPA) credentials and mayoral experience to help Alabama small businesses and attract more high-paying jobs to the state.
According to his campaign site, Underwood has been a CPA since 1998. He started his own accounting firm in 2004 and joined a new CPA firm partnership in 2021 in downtown Tuscumbia.
"By profession, we're not very famous for people skills, but CPAs are conservative by nature...historical [and] analytical," Underwood told 1819 News in a recent interview. "I think that works well if you can develop some people skills too and the right reasons for doing things. I think the CPA profession itself gives me something to offer to my community here and to the state. I'm going to do my best to be as good as I can in that regard."
According to Underwood, the firm has about nine employees. He's also served as the Mayor of Tuscumbia since 2016 before being elected to represent House District 3 in Colbert and Lauderdale counties in 2022.
"I spent more time at the Mayor's Office than I did at the CPA office," Underwood said. "I still have a firm here in Tuscumbia. I've been doing this since 2007 and have a new partner as of two years ago almost now. I did that because I like politics so much that I couldn't take care of my clients, so we found a guy that I worked really well with. He fills in the gaps when I'm out of pocket and stuff so I can keep doing what I'm doing."
According to his campaign site, Underwood's wife, Anna, works as an occupational therapist for the Colbert County School System. He has one son, Walker and three step-daughters, Holly, Victoria and Faith.
Underwood told 1819 News that he'd like to focus on two issues: helping small businesses and industry recruitment. He said he'd favor renewing Alabama's economic development incentive programs next year.
"I believe in employment and the value that that provides to a family [and] the freedom it provides is unparalleled," Underwood said. "I'm all about employment and good-paying jobs and people having options to stay home instead of moving away. That's what I'd like to focus my time on predominantly."
Underwood told 1819 News that he hoped the Alabama Legislature "could find a way to be flexible with some [tax] rebates, but be cautious about making sure that we don't get hit with something that we're not prepared for" in a possible recession.
"I know it's being discussed between rebates and lower tax rates," Underwood said. "Those are healthy discussions to have. What makes it more complicated this time is we're entering into a recession that we don't know the length of it, or the breadth of it, or the width of it. There will be some hesitation, I'm sure, regarding how aggressive do you get with it. Had it been a normal year … I think it would have been a pretty simple task to come up with either the one-time rebate or a lower rate. I think at this point, we'll just have to make sure that we see the trends and make sure where we're at going forward with how the money is allocated between the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund. It has been some good years lately, and that's encouraging."
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