Photo by Karim Shamsi-Basha.
Gary Palmer celebrates with his wife and three children after the announcement he won Alabama’s 6th Congressional District race in November.
For Gary Palmer, the past year has been an eventful one.
In October 2013, the Hoover resident announced his plans to run for Alabama’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Following the primary election, Palmer won a runoff election against fellow Republican nominee Paul DeMarco. This past November, Palmer defeated Democratic candidate Mark Lester during the general election.
Palmer officially takes office on January 3, 2015. The Hoover Sun sat down with Palmer to discuss his transition into politics, highlights of his campaign, and what he enjoys most about living in Hoover.
Palmer grew up in the small town of Hackleburg, Alabama. His father, a logger, built the family’s home. Palmer learned from a young age how discipline and effort mold a person’s character.
“I was the first in my family to go to college,” he said. “I learned early on that the promise of America is there if you work hard for it.”
For 24 years Palmer led the Alabama Policy Institute (API), a research and education organization he helped to found.
“I’ve always been a problem solver,” he said. “As one of the cofounders of the Alabama Policy Institute, that’s what I did. I worked with engineers. I also knew that smart people have a transition plan. I just felt like I was being called to office. I knew God had a plan for me.”
Over the past year, Palmer has journeyed across Alabama’s 6th Congressional District. The district is based around the Birmingham suburbs and encompasses nearly all of Jefferson County as well as Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Coosa and Shelby counties.
“I’ve learned this is a geographically beautiful district,” he said. “It’s also a great place to raise a family. These are great, hardworking people. I think the most enjoyable part about the campaign has been spending time with all the local officials.”
Of all the moments that stand out for Palmer, he said it is the response he received when he made campaign phone calls that felt most special.
“It was so great to receive such a positive response,” he said. “When I called, they said yes. It’s humbling to have so many people believe in you.”
As Palmer looks forward to his upcoming term in Washington, D.C, he has clear objectives in mind. He said that more than 90 million people are currently out of the workforce, and now, more than ever, the country is at a turning point.
“What I want people to realize is this is not a career for me, it’s more of a mission,” he said. “The bigger picture is that this country is in need of change.”
Palmer and his wife, Ann, have two daughters and a son. He said his family has not been overly swept up in the campaign.
“My family is acutely aware of the reality and how hard being in this position can be,” he said.
As Palmer prepares to begin his term, he is thankful for his roots and the opportunity to live in the Hoover community.
“It’s just a very livable area with great schools and great people,” he said.