By Morgan Bryce
Attracting large industries to invest in the area through increased training and vocational program, fighting for more accessible health and mental care as well as improving the standards of education in Lee, Russell and Tallapoosa counties are some of the goals of Nancy Bendinger, the Democratic nominee for Alabama’s Senate District 27.
A lifelong resident in the district, this is Bendinger’s first-ever run for political office, but brings experience to the table through her career in real estate, service on the City of Auburn’s Parks and Recreation board and small business background.
Following is a brief background on Bendinger and outline of her plans if elected. She will face two-term Republican incumbent Tom Whatley in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Originally from Alexander City, Bendinger chose to attend Auburn University after high school, majoring in political science with a minor in art history. After graduating in 2001, she elected to stay in the area and worked as a health services coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Later, Bendinger, along with some of her friends, opened Fun and Fancy, a children’s clothing store in Auburn. She elected to leave the business to stay home with her daughter Dalton to enable her husband Douglas to fulfill the traveling duties of his consulting job.
In 2014, she received her real estate license, and has worked ever since for the Auburn-based realty agency Three Sixty Real Estate.
Running for office
Deciding to run for office was a matter of when, not if, for Bendinger. Seeing Doug Jones’ successful campaign against Republican Roy Moore in 2016, and the sizable movement of women across the country vying for public office in this fall’s midterm elections, she said she knew the time was right to pursue her dream.
“What’s been unique about with this election and the grassroots movements of Democrats here in Alabama and beyond is a desire to work together and share information we have and not stay stuck in our own little silos. There’s only ever been eight women in the Alabama Senate in the 200 years that we’ve been a state,” Bendinger said. “Several of us would like to tie for number nine this fall. For my daughter, I think it’s exciting and inspiring to see so many women like myself out there running like myself.”
Since qualifying in February, Bendinger said she has stayed busy with the campaign, which has cranked up in recent weeks as the midterms loom fewer than six weeks away.
Through surveys and engagements with possible constituents in the district, Bendinger said she and her team have determined that education, healthcare and jobs are the three main issues that face the district.
Bendinger said she has plans to implement positive changes to all phases of education, including affordable daycare programs and larger public Pre-K4 programs, increased number of school counselors, psychologists and resource officers and expansion of “career academies” for students pursuing a vocational career immediately after high school.
If elected, Bendinger said she would also strive to work for a funding expansion for Medicaid, which she believes would increase the quality of healthcare available for Alabamians. Within the topic of healthcare is mental health, which according to state records, has been level funded in Alabama for the last 15 years.
“Our prison system is our largest mental healthcare provider, which says to me that there is a disconnect. We have to work to improve mental health care,” Bendinger said. “Potentially, we’d be keeping a lot of people out of prison. A lot of people could’ve avoided that if they’d just had the right services available to them at some point in their past.”
With previously mentioned points including the creation of “career academies” or “post-high school training or retraining programs,” Bendinger said she will also fight for increased investments in infrastructure like rural broadband access and against legislation that will hurt small businesses, which “serve as the backbone of our economy.”
“In this election, I really have tried to emphasize person over party, and I feel like that’s something been lost in at least the last decade. I hope that’s something that changes this time and I believe you’ll see a lot of crossover voting in this election,” Bendinger said.
For more information on Bendinger or her campaign, like and follow her Facebook page or visit www.votenancy27.net.