Nancy Bendinger, a real estate agent in the area, is running for Senate District 27 against three-time incumbent Tom Whatley, R-Auburn.
Bendinger has focused on healthcare, education and jobs throughout her campaign.
In terms of healthcare, Bendinger supports the expansion on Medicaid in order to protect the rural hospitals that are left in the state. Also, she said she would like to see a greater focus on mental healthcare.
"We are 10,000 beds short in Alabama," Bendinger said. "The prison system is our largest provider of mental healthcare, so I feel like we have a long way to go."
Connecting two of her concerns — mental health and education — Bendinger said she would like to see a greater presence of mental healthcare facility in schools.
She said early treatment could keep people out of the prison track early on. She said between mental health, decriminalizing drugs and treating substance abuse as a medical issue, Alabama could decrease the flow of citizens into the prison system.
At a younger age, this treatment could be crucial, she said.
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She said if schools were able to hire psychologists, guidance counselors could then focus on being guidance counselors. In addition to attention given to in-need students, prevention programs are also on the table, she said.
Still connected to education, Bendinger said she would like to see more vocation training and trade-centered learning in Alabama schools.
"If we could get more joint programs with high schools where students could graduate with a certificate, they could get a job right out of high school," Bendinger said.
She said also working to create job retraining for students who acquire training in later-obsolete jobs will not be down on their luck. This would allow them to move forward with new technology in their changing fields, she said.
In terms of higher education, Bendinger said there must be something done about the rising tution prices. In addition to supporting the education lottery, Bendinger said the state must look to the universities first to prevent the continues escalation of tuition prices.
As far as pre-K, she would love to see Alabama's program, ASRA, expanded to more than 30 percent of the state.
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