By: Alyssa Wilson
Retired Army Sgt. Kenneth Paschal was elected on Tuesday to fill a seat in Shelby County, making him the only Black Republican in Alabama’s legislature.
The 54-year-old won the general election to fill the seat for House District 73, according to the Associated Press. The position was vacated by Matt Fridy, who joined the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.
Paschal narrowly won the GOP nomination for the seat earlier this year and defeated Democratic candidate Sheridan Black with about 75% of the votes. He will now represent the district south of Birmingham with a large Republican presence.
“I want to thank the voters of Shelby County for the trust they placed in me today. I had never run for office before, but I feel like our campaign was really embraced by the people. I think they were looking for an outsider,” he said in a statement.
His campaign focused on four principles in the acronym REAP. They stand for Respect, Economic Development, Action and Protect. He also ran for office promoting key issues like education, the Second Amendment, infrastructure and equitable taxes.
The last Black Republican elected in the state was during the Reconstruction era. More recently, Rep. Johnny Ford announced he was switching to the Republican party in 2013. Ford eventually returned to his previous role as the longtime mayor of Tuskegee and rejoined the Democratic Party.
“The voters of District 73 didn’t choose me because of the color of my skin. They got to know me. They saw a God-fearing man of integrity who values and defends our Constitution,” Paschal said.