News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 2006

Garner and McCutcheon in House District 25 race

By M.J. Ellington
DAILY Staff Writer (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — North Alabama education and the impact of BRAC are shared concerns of the two candidates seeking the Republican nomination for House District 25.

Both incumbent Rep. Ray Garner, R-Huntsville, and Mac McCutcheon, a probation officer and minister from Capshaw, see opportunities and potential problems ahead for one of the state's fastest growing regions. But their focus on solutions is not the same.

There is no Democratic opponent for the winner of the June 6 primary.

At 49 and completing his first term as a lawmaker, Garner said he sees a bright future for District 25. But growing population and the impact of the Base Realignment and Closure process bring more traffic, more demands on services and more challenges for schools, hospitals and other government services. He believes education and long-term planning will provide answers to questions about long-term health of the region.

Garner said there are also reasons to be cautious about how the state spends money and the direction of long-term plans in case the economy takes a downturn.

"Things are humming along pretty well right now," said Garner. "But the state cannot sustain 9 percent and 10 percent economic growth forever."

The lawmaker said there will be big challenges facing legislators in 2007, including how to pay for Medicaid. "The state got help paying for Medicaid this year because of Hurricane Katrina, but next year we will have to face increases in the state's share of Medicaid funding," Garner said.

Garner believes that solutions to Alabama's long-term problems lie in education and attracting the type of industry that pays higher wages and bring more revenue to state coffers.

Part of the answer is in preparing students for high-paying jobs in fields like technology and engineering. He wants an engineering and technology high school for North Alabama.

District 25 includes southeastern Limestone and southwestern Madison counties, including East Limestone, the city of Madison and the Monrovia and Harvest communities.

Garner said the district's rapid growth and changes due to reapportionment, retirement and other factors have impact on the needs in the area that he wants to help address.

During the past four years, he served on House committees on education, finance and appropriation, tourism and travel, and Madison County legislation.

New to state politics, Mac McCutcheon believes the district needs a change.

A police officer for 25 years, McCutcheon said people in the area need a stronger connection to Montgomery. At 53, with 25 years as a Huntsville police officer and training as a minister, he wants a chance to try his own ideas at the State House.

McCutcheon's biggest concerns for the district include preparing the communities for growth, helping school overcrowding and finding a way to pull community and region leaders together to find answers to needs.

He also believes that voters still remember the failed Amendment 1 tax package of 2003, which voters across the state rejected overwhelmingly, and that they will look for a change.

"I am a people person and a person of integrity," McCutcheon said.

"In this district, we need someone who will sit down at the table and talk to people and find out their concerns," McCutcheon added. He promised to take those concerns to Montgomery if he is elected.

Who are the candidates?

The following candidates are in the race for the District 25 House seat,
which includes southeastern Limestone and southwestern Madison counties.


There are no Democrats running for this seat.


Ray Garner

Age: 49

Political offices held: District 25 House seat

Occupation: University of Alabama in Huntsville advancement division, public relations

Education: University of North Alabama, bachelor's degree, marketing

Personal: Garner and wife, Debbie, have one son and one daughter. Active in Mount Zion Baptist Church in Monrovia, school and community activities.

Mac McCutcheon

Age: 53

Political offices held: None. Ran for Madison County sheriff in 2002

Occupation: Probation officer, Huntsville Municipal Court.

Education: Trinity University, North Dakota, bachelor's degree, criminal justice

Personal: McCutcheon and wife, Debbie, have one son, one daughter and one grandchild. Army veteran. Associate pastor of College Park Church of God in Huntsville. 25 years in law enforcement. FBI hostage negotiator.

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