New member profile: Rep. David Cole

By AINSLEY PLATT, Alabama Daily News

In one of the most competitive general elections in the state, Dr. David Cole defeated a Democratic opponent to become the newest Republican state representative from District 10 in Madison County.

Cole, a retired Army doctor who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, is the current medical director of the Huntsville Occupational Health and Safety Group. He said he’s running on a platform for “table problems,” including improving schools and infrastructure.

His predecessor, ex-Rep. Mike Ball said District 10 has become more purple since Ball’s original campaign for the bureau. Cole met Democrat Marilyn Lands in the closely watched campaign. November’s race included libertarian Elijah Boyd. Cole won with 51.6% of the vote.

“The people of District 10 have selected David Cole to represent them in Montgomery, and we’re excited about the experience he’s bringing to the state house,” John Wahl, chairman of the state GOP, told the Alabama Daily News. “Rep. Cole’s medical leadership roles in both the military and private sectors give him an amazing ability to serve not only the people of Madison County but all Alabamaans. He will be able to provide expert insight into public health matters that will be incredibly useful to state legislatures.”

District 10 became geographically smaller during the 2021 redistricting. Before the reclassification, sections extended into southeast Huntsville, but that area is no longer part of the district. Portions of Madison that formerly formed the borough were also removed.

Cole attended the Legislature’s organizing session this month while a court challenge to his district residency is pending. It was first reported by the Alabama Political Reporter. Cole declined to comment on the situation, citing ongoing litigation.

“The state party’s candidate committee received a voting challenge against Dr. Cole after candidate qualification was completed in February 2022,” Wahl said. “The committee voted not to proceed with the challenge due to the lack of evidence against Dr. Cole is missing.”

Cole will serve on the House Health Committee and the State Government and Fiscal Responsibility Committee. Health was one of his requested tasks.

“I’m the only doctor in the house right now, so I think I can really help the committee by giving a good look at some of their legislative proposals that we’re going to be proposing,” said Cole.

Questions and Answers with Rep. David Cole

Q: You are a veteran and a doctor. Why did you want to be a member of the Alabama House?

A: “Well my whole life has been dedicated to service, service to humanity, service to my fellow human beings – alleviating suffering – and then of course service to my country. And you know, I was in the army for three, four years. And I just felt a call that I still had something to give. When I retired here we said this would be the best place we had found so far. And so we said, “You know what, this is where we want to be.” And I want to give back to the state and the area that has helped me so much since we moved here. And I thought that with my experience and expertise on certain issues, maybe I could help steer the state in a good direction to help the Alabamaans. So that’s kind of why I got into it.”

Q: Your race was closely watched when Democrats tried to turn the open seat, and your predecessor, Rep. Ball, said the district is more purple than it was in his first race. At the end of the day, you received almost 1,000 more votes than your Democratic opponent in the general election. How did you do that? What was your message?

A: “Well, you know, the one thing to focus on is that at the end of the day, it’s a lot about table issues, and table issues for us was improving infrastructure, improving roads, closing schools improve and ensure that we can raise and lower taxes and be a good steward of their taxpayers’ money. This is something that cuts across all aspects of all politics. And our message just resonated with District 10 better than my opponent’s (message).”

Q: How would you describe your district and its political leanings?

A: “Well, they are very educated. You know, this area is very well educated because of the many jobs that are out there. They are very interested in politics and the specific issues that are important to them.”

Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges your district is facing, and what do you plan to do to address them?

A: “Some of the biggest challenges for us are infrastructure. Madison County has grown by leaps and bounds. We are one of the top counties with the lowest unemployment. We still have jobs and big companies constantly moving in with living wages and a great way for families to enjoy life here. Education is really good here. So we have to make sure schools keep up. I spoke to one of the superintendents who says they get an average of 500 new students each year. So you know we have to make sure that schools stay open, that teachers can have manageable class sizes. It’s kind of like we’re the victim of our own success. And one of the things we have to do is make sure we keep tackling these so they don’t get out of hand and we stay ahead of them.”

Q: Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t really addressed?

A: “Well, I am very humbled and honored that the district chose me.

“…I’m new to politics and haven’t had an established name yet. But you know, I felt like I resonated with a lot of people in my district who are also transient, have been in the military, they understand what service is, and they understand what I can bring to the table. I am truly honored and appreciate everyone who has come out to support me. And I think this is going to be a great quadrennium for the state.”