People you should know Slade Blackwell State Senator, District 15
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Senator Slade Blackwell (left) and Birmingham mayor William Bell speak with the media at the re-opening of the Grants Mill Road Bridge. Photo by Kathryn Acree.
By MAGGIE CARTER O’CONNOR I sat down with State Senator Slade Blackwell in his Birmingham office to talk about issues related to the state and our city. He represents sections of Jefferson and Shelby County in his District 15 Senate seat. Blackwell grew up just down the road in Montevallo. He played basketball for the University of Montevallo while working toward his Bachelor of Science degree. After graduation, he moved to Birmingham and began a career in real estate development. Blackwell married his high school sweetheart, Sally Salter, a general surgeon at St. Vincent’s, and became a partner with Inkana Development. The Blackwells reside in Mountain Brook with their three children: Colby, 9; Grant, 9; and Hagan, 7. What current projects are you working on that affect the 280 corridor? I made it a priority when first elected to ensure that the Grants Mill Road Bridge construction was completed as quickly as possible. More than 8,000 vehicles utilize this route every day, and its closure was a serious burden on many citizens. The new bridge is much safer and was built to withstand more weight for larger vehicles. The impact on alleviating some of the traffic on Highway 280 was immediate, and those who travel across it to and from work returned to their normal commute, rather than an hour plus detour. I look forward to continuing to work with other elected officials to determine how we can improve traffic congestion along the 280 corridor. I am also constantly working with the mayors in each of the cities I represent in Shelby County to make sure the needs of my constituents are being met. In the Senate, I am sponsoring several pro-jobs bills that I hope will benefit the citizens of Shelby County as well as the entire state. Additionally, I am sponsoring a bill that allows for single-point filing for businesses. This will come as a relief to several businesses in Shelby County as it will alleviate some of the administrative work that must be done in order to file taxes in Alabama. What do you love about Birmingham and the communities you represent? I love the sense of community that Birmingham and the other surrounding areas have. Everyone wants to better their community and the state as a whole, which is encouraging. It’s nice to represent people who are proud of where they come from and are willing to work hard for what they believe, so that we leave these communities
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in better shape for future generations than we found them.
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How would you describe your job? Engaging, challenging, rewarding… tiring! I soon discovered that I had been naïve about the time this position requires. It is an all-encompassing job. Without my legislative director, Anna Catherine Roberson, I would not be able to attend to as many projects and constituent requests. Along with your elected responsibilities, you are also a small business owner. How does that help you relate to your constituents? How has your schedule changed since taking office? Being a small business owner has only helped me be a better senator for my district. Not only has it taught me the value of hard work and dedication, but also I feel like I can better relate to my constituents because of my conservative business roots. A lot of my district is made of small businesses, so it’s easier to know what those guys are going through and find a way to give them all the opportunities they deserve. My schedule changed quite drastically since taking office. In addition to being in Montgomery for the legislative session four months out of the year, I am constantly meeting with elected officials and constituents throughout the district. I find that it is important to stay connected to those in your district. It helps me get a better understanding of the wants and needs of the people in my district and how I can best help. For me, being a senator is not just something I do four months out of the year. I am always working to see first-hand how we can improve district 15 and the entire state of Alabama. Over the past six months, I have held town hall meetings in Trussville, Irondale, Leeds and Chelsea. I hope your readers will join us for an upcoming community meeting in their area. In your rare “spare time,” what do you like to do? I enjoy spending time with my family, hunting, coaching my kids’ basketball teams and spending time at the farm. I currently serve on the board for the Lakeshore Foundation, the Birmingham History Center, the Pinson Education Foundation, the Birmingham Golf Association and the Shelby Arts Council. I am also involved with the Birmingham Business Alliance, the Alabama Republican Party and several chambers of commerce.
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