New State Rep. Mark Gidley (R-Hokes Bluff) spent his time before politics in two different industries that taught him similar skills. 

Gidley, who represents District 29, spent 21 years in insurance sales and management and 24 years in full-time ministry. 

He's currently a pastor at Faith Worship Center in Glencoe and has a master's degree from the Pentecostal Theological Seminary in Cleveland, Tennessee. Gidley is married to his wife, Kathy, and they have two daughters who work in education.

Gidley described both his careers in insurance and ministry as "working with people and helping people solve problems and meet needs" while also listening and communicating with people.

In a recent interview with 1819 News, Gidley said that he's "always been interested in politics and always been very involved in voting and encouraging people to vote and being involved in who your legislators are." 

"I've always encouraged people to be involved in the process," Gidley said. "When I realized this seat was going to come open, I knew in my heart that I felt like God had prepared me through a series of many events to be in this spot. I didn't realize some of that when I was walking through it. I really felt impressed that it was my time to take my service to the next level by serving the district and by serving my state. That was my motivating factor now to go to the next level and not only just know my legislators and work with them, but actually to be one who actually leads in my district and in my state."

District 29 encompasses parts of Etowah and Calhoun Counties. Gidley narrowly defeated Jamie Grant to win the Republican primary in May, according to the Gadsden Times. The race was one of two in Etowah County, where some voters received ballots for the wrong races, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

"We did have a little bit of confusion around some of the district lines during the election during the primary," Gidley said. "All of that was resolved. One of the things that he and I both worked hard to do was to make sure we kept it clean. Kept it very civil. There was no back-and-forth during the primary, and many people really appreciated that. I was very thankful that we were able to do that. Now, we did have a very close race, but that was resolved. It was a close race, but yet it went in my favor. Both of us put out where we stood without attacking each other. I was very appreciative of that."

Gidley had no Democrat opponent in the general election and easily defeated a Libertarian opponent to win the District 29 seat.

Gidley, an Etowah Pregnancy Testing Center board member, said some of the issues he'd like to focus on as a new legislator are pro-life issues, education, and workforce development.

 "We now still have to make sure we focus on making sure that our states continue to be pro-life states," Gidley said. "I'm thankful that Alabama has enacted some strong pro-life legislation, but one of the things that I will work on and focus on going forward is making sure that I do all I can to make sure that Alabama stays that strong pro-life state and we protect the sanctity of life. It's extremely important to me."

Gidley said "workforce development is one of our greatest opportunities to prepare and train the next generation of workforce to go into the workforce and also be able to attract industries into our areas."

"When we can create and train a strong workforce, we have a greater opportunity to do industrial development in the area," Gidley said.

Gidley told 1819 News that "we really need to tackle how we can use those surpluses to help relieve some of the burden off the backs of the people of Alabama."

"We have budget surpluses both in the General Fund and the Education Trust Fund," Gidley said. "I hope that some of the very first things that we can tackle is how we can wisely use that money to first of all help education and to make sure we put that money to good use in the right ways. But also the General Fund to see how we can do things and what all those things are at this point, I'm not sure. I feel like there are some things we can do to help alleviate and relieve some of the burden on our people across the state. We're at over 8.5 percent inflation. Gas prices, even though they've come down some, they're still far beyond what they were. I think we really need to tackle how we can use those surpluses to help relieve some of the burden off the back of the people of Alabama. I think that's extremely important."

Gidley said "how that will look going forward, we'll have to see."

"I really think it's something we must look at and see what we can do," Gidley said. "Relieving some of the burden off the backs of our people across the state, I think, would be one of the greatest things we can do."

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