Shown left to right: Cullman County Commissioners Garry Marchman and Kerry Watson; Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle; Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview; Rep. Corey Harbison, R-Good Hope; Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman; District Judge Rusty Turner; and Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)
CULLMAN – On Tuesday evening, exactly two weeks since the Nov. 6 election, Cullman County’s legislative delegation and commissioners, all Republicans, were sworn in during a ceremony at the Cullman Civic Center. New state legislators Sen. Garlan Gudger (District 4) and Rep. Scott Stadthagen (District 9), returning Representatives Randall Shedd and Corey Harbison, and County Commissioners Garry Marchman and Kerry Watson took their oaths of office, surrounded by family and friends.
Two freshmen legislators ready to get started
Cullman County will send a new legislator to each chamber of the Alabama Legislature this coming session. Stadthagen and Gudger will receive orientation beginning in December, then will attend legislative sessions in January to take care of internal matters such as choosing a speaker and majority leader. After a break in February, the regular session will begin in March 2019.
Stadthagen is already making plans, telling The Tribune, “In February, I’m going to do the town hall meetings like I told everybody in my campaign, before session starts. We’re going to have them in West Point, we’re going to have them in Hartselle and Lacey’s Spring, and then we’re going to go over the big ticket items, kind of feel where our community’s at and how they feel on them before I go down there.”
Stadthagen said he has already begun work on a bill that will offer financial incentives to state departments that figure out how to save General Fund money from their budgets by returning 10 percent of the savings to the department in the form of staff bonuses.
“I’m just excited, man,” said Stadthagen. “I’m excited to get going and get things accomplished!”
Gudger reflected on the whole election process, sharing, “It’s been an emotional swing from deciding to run, to going through the campaign and meeting so many people that got behind me, and from my father passing, all the way until tonight through the election process. It’s been an emotional roller coaster, and that’s what campaigns and tough campaigns and elections are all about. But I am humbled and honored to be here, and I’m thankful that I get to represent the 4th District in the Senate of Alabama, and I’m going to do my very best to be able to honor and make everyone in this district be proud of their state senator.”
A veteran legislator observes
The Tribune asked Shedd, the elder statesman of Cullman County’s legislative delegation, what surprises might await the two freshmen when they get to Montgomery.
“Probably the one thing that frustrates most freshmen legislators is how slow the process is. You know, it doesn’t happen fast. We call it ‘making sausage.’ Sometimes it doesn’t look good, but sausage always tastes good, most of the time,” he said. “So that’s probably the one thing: how slow it is to get something accomplished.”
Shedd expressed plenty of confidence in his junior partners, though.
When asked what might catch the new guys off guard about life in the Legislature, he responded, “You know, probably not that much, because they’ve both been so active in politics before getting there. When I went in, it was a special election, so I went in right halfway through the session. But, you know, there’s a lot of orientation that’ll be taking place in December, then there’s the organizational session in January, and then we go in session in March. So I think these guys are going to be super prepared already, just because of their involvement that they’ve had, and the campaign prepares you pretty good, too.”
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