By Jean Cole
Athens City Councilman Chris Seibert was last seen in the headlines when he rescued two people from drowning at Perdido Beach while he was attending the Electric Cities of Alabama convention on July 7.
On Monday, Seibert made headlines again when he stood on the steps of the Limestone County Courthouse and announced he would seek the Republican nomination for the District 1 state Senate seat, currently held by Democratic incumbent Tammy Irons of Florence. If elected, the Athens resident would represent residents in Lauderdale, Limestone and Madison counties.
With the June 3 primary election less than a year away, Seibert told the crowd that gathered Monday to hear his announcement why he is running after serving less than a year on the City Council. He was elected in October 2012.
“I want to be part of the conservative leadership in Montgomery that will work to make sure that our district gets its fair share,” Seibert said. “We need a senator who will work with Republican leadership to cut the wasteful spending, demand accountability and get our economy moving in the right direction. We must continue to explore avenues to reduce taxes and give our communities the support they need to recruit and bring new jobs and economic development.”
He said, during his tenure on the council, Athens has been ranked the No. 3 business-friendly city in the state by the Alabama Policy Institute. (Although not mentioned in his speech, Seibert and council members Wayne Harper and Joseph Cannon were not yet councilmen when the previous council voted to raise the sales tax by 1 cent last year.) Seibert did say the county has received $9.2 million in ATRIP funds for infrastructure improvements during his tenure, part of which are spent in Athens.
A former Air Force officer stationed overseas in support of military operations and logistics, Seibert has held the rank of captain and was awarded multiple commendations, including company grade officer of the year. He now works as a sales director for Stereotaxis, which manufactures robotically guided heart-catherization equipment.
“My business experience and service to my country has prepared me for this opportunity,” said Seibert, who said he began thinking about a run for the Senate a year ago. “Our district is a wonderful place to live, but we need new conservative leadership that will help build new roads, support our law-enforcement, preserve our conservative values and ensure that every tax dollar is spent wisely. As the father of two young sons, I know firsthand what is at stake. We must invest and improve our schools and make our schools the best in Alabama.”
Seibert said he was born and raised in Limestone County and his parents were hardworking classroom teachers. He said he met Tiffany, his wife of 15 years, in high school and they have two sons, Brock, 9, and Ben, 6. Seibert said he spends much of his spare time coaching soccer, youth basketball and baseball. He said he and his family are members of First United Methodist Church, where he serves on the church council and he and his wife both teach Sunday school.
A graduate of the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in history, Seibert played for Coach Gene Stallings as a linebacker and was a 1996 letterman. While on active duty, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of South Alabama.
At least three council members attended Seiberts’ press conference Monday, including Harper, Councilman Jimmy Gill and Council President Harold Wales, along with other notable Republicans.
Wales recently expressed concern about the lack of state senators and representatives living in Limestone County, noting that state Rep. Dan Williams, R-Athens, is the only member of the local legislative delegation living in Limestone County. State Rep. Mac McCutcheon lives in Capshaw, Rep. Micky Hammon and Sen. Arthur Orr live in Decatur, and Sen. Bill Holtzclaw lives in Madison.
Seibert's council term expires in 2016. If he were elected to the state Senate, the council could either appoint someone to fill out his term or continue on with only four members until the election, Wales said.