North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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July 24, 2009

Bentley has big plans for Alabama

By Adam Smith

The North Jefferson News

Alabama’s gubernatorial primary won’t be held until next summer, but the race for the highest office in the state is in full swing.

The 2010 race is wide open as Gov. Bob Riley serves out the remainder of his second term in office. At least nine candidates have thrown their collective hats into the ring.

One of those contenders is Republican Robert Bentley, a Tuscaloosa dermatologist. Though his name may be unfamiliar to some, Bentley is no stranger to politics. He has served as a representative in the State House since 2002.

Hailing from Columbiana, Bentley has lived in Tuscaloosa for the past 34 years. After a stint in the United States Air Force medical corps, he started Alabama Dermatology Associates, which is now the largest dermatology practice in the southeast.

Through his practice, he’s also treated every Alabama head football coach from Paul “Bear” Bryant to Nick Saban. However, Bentley retired six weeks ago to devote himself to the gubernatorial campaign trail.

Bentley refers to himself as a “small business operator,” which he said gives him an understanding of the wants and needs of Alabamians.

“I understand how people think and the problems they have and those things make me qualified,” he said. “Having practiced medicine has given me that unique insight.”

Though he doesn’t represent Jefferson County, Bentley said he’s well aware of the problems facing the state’s most populated county. While he doesn’t have all the answers to solving the financial crisis, he said it will take a common sense approach and quick action.

“The people of Jefferson County need to be concerned about this situation and the people of the state need to be concerned about Jefferson County,” he said. “There’s been so much corruption and mismanagement of funds and the problem must be solved. If I had the answer, I could win the Nobel Peace Prize.”

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