2 Democrats vying for House 47 seat
Left: Coleman, 33, graduated from Vestavia Hills High School, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree from the University of New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Christian Coleman. Right: Jim Toomey is a second-time challenger and in 2018 faced Republican Representative David Wheeler, who died on March 9. Photo courtesy of Jim Toomey.
While a Republican candidate for State House District 47 had not been named in mid-April, two Democrats will face each other in the May 24 primary for the right to be on the November ballot.
Incumbent Republican Representative David Wheeler died on March 9, and the state GOP, some time before the general election, will nominate someone to take his place on the ballot. Wheeler had qualified to run for re-election from the district, which includes parts of Hoover and Vestavia Hills.
For Democratic voters, they can choose between second challenger Jim Toomey and first candidate Christian Coleman.
Coleman, 33, graduated from Vestavia Hills High School, then earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree from the University of New Orleans. He now spends his time as a freelance writer and work-from-home father of two little girls.
He is running for office to bring a new voice to the state legislature.
“It looks like we need a generational shift,” Coleman said. “People who know what it’s like to raise kids, buy houses, get jobs now.”
Coleman said much of the legislation signed these days signals a cable news audience and appeals to federal issues, but does nothing for the state of Alabama.
Like Toomey, Coleman wants to expand access to Medicaid. He also wants to make Election Day a holiday to allow more people to vote who might not be able to vote now.
While Coleman is running as a Democrat, he said he wants to be “Alabama-specific,” focusing on the issues that help Alabamians and not the hot-button issues that land him on MSNBC.
For example, while National Democrats talk about raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, Coleman said he would like to explore eliminating Alabama’s income tax. Florida, Texas and a handful of other states don’t have one, and if they’re doing well, it might be time to consider doing it for Alabama residents, a- he declared.
With the current state of inflation and higher than average gas prices, Coleman floated the idea of having a state gas tax holiday until the prices stabilize.
Coleman serves in the National Guard and knows that many of his military colleagues are more conservative than he is.
“They’re just as Alabamian and just as important to me,” Coleman said.
Regardless of political beliefs, Coleman said everyone has similar desires for their lives.
“Everybody wants their kids to go to good schools, good paying jobs and two weeks vacation a year,” Coleman said.
If the money for an educational lottery is well distributed, Coleman said he would support it. Education is an important issue for him, as his wife is a teacher. Supporting teachers, as well as teachers’ unions, is important, he said.
Coleman opposes school choice, arguing that charter schools tend to turn education into a lucrative business.
“Every student’s well-being should be paramount, not money making,” Coleman said.
To learn more about Coleman’s campaign, visit christianforalabama.com.
Toomey challenged Wheeler in 2018, getting just under 46% of the vote. He shows up again because he thinks that if he wants to make a difference, he has to have a seat at the table.
“You have to work,” Toomey said. “You have to knock on doors. … I believe I can make a difference.
Toomey said the state of Alabama doesn’t have enough revenue and he thinks the state needs to expand Medicaid. In doing so, the money received from the federal government could “save” rural hospitals and create more jobs, he said.
Although he doesn’t have a strong opinion on the matter, Toomey wants to offer a lottery to the people of Alabama and allow them to vote. In education, it will be essential to prepare today’s students for the 21st century, he said.
He thinks the district is winnable, despite being a Democrat in a state controlled by a Republican supermajority, he said, “I have a history of building relationships.”
Those soft skills are important for reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans as well as creating an environment where people can agree to disagree and not be so polarized, Toomey said.
ON THE ISSUES
- Christian Coleman wants to expand access to Medicaid and explore Alabama’s income tax elimination.
- Jim Toomey also wants to expand Medicaid and bring a lottery bill before citizens for a vote.
Toomey, on his website, also states his desire to provide ethical leadership to Montgomery and protect Alabama’s drinking water.
Toomey said that while he hasn’t met Coleman, he is happy to see a youngster getting involved in politics, but he believes he has the best opportunity to win the seat.
To learn more about Toomey’s campaign, visit jimtoomeyforalabamahouse.com.