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Hagan, Rigsby battle to represent Huntsville in the Alabama House

Outgoing Speaker Mac McCutcheon’s district is a rare opportunity in the state for Democrats to flip a Republican seat.

Statehouse candidate Mallory Hagan, left, and Phillip Rigsby, right.

House Speaker Mac McCutcheon chose not to seek reelection, leaving a vacuum in the District 25 seat and a rare opportunity for Democrats to steal a seat away from the Republican supermajority.

Former Miss America Mallory Hagan will look to bring the seat home for the Democrats, while Republican pharmacist Phillip Rigsby plans to keep the district red.

Hagan said the Legislature needs to be shaken up with new voices.

“Right now, 84 percent of the legislature is made up by men,” Hagan said. “When you’re talking about legislation affecting the entire state, it’s important to have different perspectives at the table. Being a young woman, people are resonating with the fact it’s time for our generation to pick up the torch and take ownership of the world we live in and our communities.”

That message is resonating not just with her peers, Hagan said, but across the generational divides.

“We continue to rank at the bottom of so many measurable; it’s time for a fresh perspective and new ideas,” Hagan said.

But with Huntsville’s massive growth, Rigsby challenged why anything should change.

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“North Alabama, specifically Huntsville, is the number one place to live in the US under Republican leadership,” Rigsby said. “Why would we want to change that? Roads have been improving even with all the growth— why would I want that to change? As a voting community member, I would not want that to go a different direction.”

While Hagan wants to bring fresh perspective to the Legislature, Rigsby said his election would help keep the Republican supermajority that could continue to assert its plans for the state.

On the issues, Rigsby emphasized education.

“We need to make sure education continues down the right path,” Rigsby said. “We need to support teachers, and bring in qualified ,well-compensated teachers who teach reading, writing and arithmetic. We need to get out of this social business.”

Alabama Republicans made several moves in the last session regarding education including a new law preventing teachers from instructing or leading discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through fifth grade. The body also nearly passed a bill that would ban “divisive concepts” resembling Critical Race Theory from the classroom, but ran out of time in the session.

Rigsby also emphasized ensuring that roads continue to keep pace with the growth of the city, but he said the main difference between him and his opponent is connection to the community.

“I’ve served in the district, lived here, volunteered here; that’s the message we have consistently pushed in our campaign,” Rigby said. “I know the area, been part of the area, and win or lose I’ll still be part of the area. That’s absolutely not true of my opponent, who has only been in District 25 a little over two years after losing a race for Congress in 2018. … I’m a part of the district, part of community; I’m a volunteer firefighter, I’ve been a PTA president, I lead music in our church, teach the youth. Compare that to my opponent who has been here two years and not really vested in our community. There’s a big difference in someone wanting to serve a community they have been a part of.”

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Hagan, meanwhile, said she is the candidate that has put in the work reaching out to the community in the election.

“We have had the opportunity to knock on around 11,000 doors so far and have conversations with thousands of voters,” Hagan said. “We’re working really hard to reach people with the message of our campaign. I think my hope is that when people are considering who to vote for, they take into consideration who has actually been working for their vote. I’ve had thousands s of face-to-face interactions with people. That’s what I hope people hold onto, who’s been out there working for their vote and won’t take that for granted.”

On the issues, Hagan emphasized her support for abortion access.

“Our reproductive rights have been stripped from us,” Hagan said. “As a woman in this state, I’ve seen that women are resonating that the Dobbs decision impacts them. In a state with a total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape and incest, I’d say women are not only inspired, but galvanized to vote.”

Rigsby said he believes Republicans have the numbers in the district if they turn out to vote.

“I think what it’s really going to come down to is voter turnout,” Rigsby said. “If they want to keep the momentum going in Alabama, if they care about what is going on in their community, they’re going to come out and vote for Rigsby.”

The General Election is November 8.

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Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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