Alabama District 66 State Rep. Alan Baker has no opposition in the June 5 Republican primary but will seek a fourth term against a sitting Atmore councilwoman to retain his seat.
“I am a retired educator after serving as a classroom history teacher in public schools for 27 years,” Baker said, “I have lived in District 66 for over 50 years, which includes both Escambia and Baldwin counties.”
The Baldwin County portion of the district runs along the state line from U.S. Route 98 to the corner of the Escambia boundary and takes in a part of western Escambia.
Democrat Susan Smith, a registered nurse and Atmore city councilwoman, will be on the ballot as a Democrat trying to unseat Baker in the November general election. She lost a bid for an Alabama state senate seat in 2014 but says she benefited from entering that race.
“I feel I won so much more than I lost,” Smith said. “I gained many friends and relationships, learned many valuable lessons and know that many people regardless of race, party affiliation, or sex want the very same things.”
She’s trying again because she thinks people want to have leaders they can trust and believes Alabama has lacked that in recent years.
“My goal is to move Alabama, especially Baldwin and Escambia counties, forward,” she said. “I believe people of Alabama deserve officials they can trust. Three of our top officials were removed or asked to leave office. I believe the people want the same things I do. I know they want someone who will not only represent them but stay in touch with them and be held accountable to them.”
Baker said in his three terms he has represented the interests of District 66 well in Montgomery.
“I am running for re-election to continue my active conservative representation for all citizens of District 66 in being that strong voice in Montgomery,” Baker said.
The burgeoning growth all over Baldwin affects every aspect of life, Baker said, and he believes handling and managing that growth can benefit his district.
“My current and continued focus if re-elected will be on economic development, workforce development and education,” Baker said. “The greatest challenge for District 66 will be improving our infrastructure across the district which, consequently, would benefit and attract economic development as well as benefit the citizens.”
If there is a waiting workforce for new companies, Smith said, the growth and expansion will be smoother.
“It’s not enough to bring jobs or businesses to our area without first providing them with workforce-ready people,” Smith said. “Having trained people in place saves time and money. Many times, it is a deciding factor that brings them to our area. We must find out what their needs are and be willing to help provide them. The outcome will benefit the employer, employee and the communities.”
The best place to begin growing that workforce, Smith said, is in the schools.
“My priorities are providing the best education possible to our students while making sure our teachers are given the best equipment and resources available,” Smith said. “Making sure the teacher is taken care of when it comes time for raises — and not politicians or administrators.”