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      New Member Profile: Rep. Ron Bolton

      ByMonelo Gabriel

      Feb 14, 2023

      Eight rural hospitals have closed in Alabama since 2011 according to the Alabama Hospital Association, and the state is currently ranked within the top ten closures of rural hospitals in the U.S. With 44% of Alabama’s population living in rural areasthis pressing issue was singled out by new state House representative Ron Bolton as one of his top legislative priorities ahead of the next session of the Alabama Legislature.

      Chosen to represent Northport as part of the 61st District, Bolton defeated her Republican challenger Kimberly Madison in the May Republican primary and then defeated her Libertarian opponent Damon Pruet in the November general election.

      The seat was previously held by Republican Rodney Sullivan, who was elected in 2018.

      Bolton worked in law enforcement with the Northport Police Department for 25 years, retiring as a captain in 2011 to become a campaign strategist for state and regional political campaigns. It was this experience, Bolton said, that motivated him to run for the position.

      “I have experience working with legislators on government affairs and strong community connections, and I thought it could benefit my district,” he said.

      His House committee assignments include Public Safety and Homeland Security, Ethics and Campaign Finance, and the Agriculture and Forestry Committees.

      However, despite what his professional background might suggest, Bolton said it was the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry that he was perhaps most excited about.

      Q&A with Rep Ron Bolton *the questions are paraphrased

      Q: What are some issues in your district that you would like to help address in this next session?

      “One of my key focuses is on the western side of my district with Pickens County, where we lost our hospital there in 2020. Our goal is to get that ER back because we sadly lack medical access there.

      Another thing in the big picture for my district is rural broadband access. I know it’s a hot topic, but it’s a big problem for us because so many people can’t communicate.”

      Q: What do you see as the way forward to address the problem of rural hospital closures?

      “From my point of view, the rural hospital model that we have used for decades just doesn’t work anymore. You have too little population to support the larger operations with the dorm beds and all.

      My goal is to provide emergency stabilization services in rural areas until a person can be transported to one of the other hospitals if they need to go, and if not, they can be managed there and released.

      The main thing I see are problems with accidents that need immediate attention. Also, things like coronary problems and things like that where people really can’t hold out until they get to a bigger facility.”

      Q: What are some of your broader legislative priorities?

      “I want to make sure everyone gets their share of (American Bailout Plan Act) because each district, like mine, is going to have many needs, and those needs to be properly separated. In general, (I want to) make sure that we adequately fund everything we have.

      We have to divide the surplus and it is yet to be determined exactly what they are going to do with the surplus money. I’m a big fan of education, especially when it comes to workforce development. I was a career tech workforce person when I got out of high school because it was so many years before I ended up going to college.”

      Q: What would you like to see improve in the area of ​​workforce development?

      “At the high school level, there should be good opportunities to fill the jobs we have available; we have a wide range of jobs available right now, and (I want to) give young people coming out of high school the right training and the right skills to do jobs where they can make a career and earn a living with .

      One thing I am in favor of is financial education. I know we do provide a lot of (financial literacy) training in career technology programs, but I really want to see a good chunk of that move towards high school exit time. It is very important that when you start to leave school that you do not overload yourself with credit cards. They need to know how to manage a checking account,[so]there’s a lot of things they need to know, whether they’re a math teacher or not.”

      Q: Are you willing to divert public education funds to private schools and public charter schools, as advocates of ‘school choice’ have advocated?

      “The question there depends on who you ask and what they think ‘school choice’ means. The bottom line is that I want children to have direct access to a high-quality education.

      I don’t care so much where they go, but over the years I’ve really been a fan of public education. I like to make sure we get the resources and keep pushing to improve the results.”

      Q: You mentioned that you were particularly excited to serve on the Agriculture and Forestry Committee. Why does he consider the appointment of the committee particularly important?

      “We know that this year they’re going to have an upcoming Farm Bill renewal in Washington, and (I want to) make sure that we get a good distribution that we can work with (and) provide the tools to people in agriculture and forestry. . they need to work with.

      Their costs have increased tremendously in the last three years and I would like to make sure that we can help them financially.”


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