It’s true what they say — There’s no place like home.
I was born in Alabama, went to Cullman City schools, and graduated from Auburn University. I thought that one day I’d leave my small town to strike out on my own, and forge my own path in life.
While I was finishing my courses at Auburn, my father came to visit me. He asked me to come home and take over the family business since he was beginning to become ill. He said after a couple of years, I could move the business wherever I wanted and carry on with my life. This was an easy decision. When family needs you, you go.
Coming back to Cullman was one of the best decisions I ever made because it allowed me to mature in an secure environment, but still having to work hard for what I wanted to achieve and, by doing so, it helped make me the person I am today. It was the opportunity I never realized I truly wanted nor the path I would have chosen - but God's hand was guiding me.
In Cullman, I fell in love with my family’s business, fell in love with my community, and fell in love with my wife, Heather Gudger. I thought I couldn’t fall deeper in love with anything else in this world, and then my sons, Tripp and Pierce, were born.
Over the next few years, Cullman helped me discover myself and my passion for restoration. Most importantly, I discovered my passion to serve my community. I realized how well Cullman had served my family and friends and how little it asked in return. I was seeing my city with fresh eyes and so much needed to be done to revitalize it. To me, Cullman was like an antique - unique, perfectly imperfect , and filled with stories. It was just waiting for someone to take the time to breathe life back into it.
In 2003 I had to make a decision to either move my growing business to a metropolitan city, or stay in my hometown. As I evaluated the situation, I realized that my love for my family meant more than my aspiring potential in business, so I made the decision to stay in Cullman. Understanding that one day my children might have to make that decision - I knew that Cullman would have to start to change.
As I got involved in the community, I’d lose sleep at night thinking about Cullman's potential and the best ways to help restore my hometown. Heather lost sleep because of it too. One night, she finally looked at me and said ,“If you aren’t gonna do anything about it, then stop complaining!"
The fire had been lit. I decided I needed to have a voice for where the vision and growth of my community would land for the next generation.
I was elected to the City Council in 2004. In 2008, I was elected President of the City Council and still hold that position today. No longer was it ‘What can I do to make Cullman better?', It became ‘What can WE do to make Cullman better?”
Our primary objective was to build up the city to make it the best place for its citizens to live, work, play and worship. We’ve seen unprecedented economic growth from 2004-2018, surviving the recession of 2008 and rebuilding after the 2011 tornadoes. We invested back into our community continuously, improving the quality of life, and empowering all citizens to care a little more, work together a little more, and to believe a little more until our aspirations started to meet our achievements!
This campaign is no different than my story above. It’s going to take hard work, determination, and honest, open conversation, but I believe that together, we can make District 4 a Powerhouse in Alabama, in which all other communities are able to look at for a blueprint for success!