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Brinyark: On gaming, I’m a ‘yes’ in the chamber and a ‘no’ on the ballot 

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Bryan Brinyark, and I am currently the newest member of the Alabama Legislature.

Kyle South, who previously held my seat in the Alabama House of Representatives, resigned on June 30th, 2023. The following week, Governor Ivey set the primary special election for September 26th and the primary run-off, which was necessary, for October 24th

As you can see, special elections move quickly. I had less than two months to stand up my campaign, raise money and show constituents what made me different from everyone else on the ballot.

That last challenge – differentiating myself from the others – is easier said than done when republican candidates tend to be in total agreeance on the issues primary voters care most about.

Leading up to the primary, four candidate forums were held in the district to give voters the opportunity to learn about the people vying for their support. From my perspective, they didn’t learn much about any one of us by hearing our thoughts on education, economic development, or even national issues like the ongoing border crisis. If I’m being honest, it was almost as if we were trying to out-republican one another and prove who was the most conservative out of the bunch.

It was both exhausting and frustrating, and had it not been for my genuine beliefs on one specific issue, I’m not sure if I would be the new Representative for House District 16.

Like clockwork, gaming came up at one point or another at every candidate forum. Questions like, do I support the expansion of gaming in Alabama? 

Do I think the state needs a lottery supporting education? 

How will the revenue be spent? 

Why isn’t the law being enforced?

My responses raised a few eyebrows, both from my fellow candidates and those asking the questions. 

I will vote YES on gaming legislation in the House Chamber, but I will vote NO if it makes its way to the ballot on November 9th

My justification for this is simple: How can I expect my constituents to trust me in Montgomery if I can’t trust them to decide on this issue for themselves? As elected officials, we have the responsibility to be a voice for our constituents, and based on the conversations I have had in my district, the people want to vote on this issue. On the campaign trail, I had numerous folks come up to me after townhalls and tell me that my stance on this issue is what earned their vote.

Some said they wanted to play the lottery, and some said they wanted to see the revenue make a difference in our state. I have also seen polling that shows over 90% of republican voters want to see this constitutional amendment on the ballot.   

I made a commitment to do my part to pass this legislation. I do not gamble. I never have, and I do not ever plan to. I have moral objections to the issue, but at the end of the day, I was elected to represent my constituents, not myself. At my core, I’m for freedom, and I believe our people deserve the freedom to choose on this issue. 

When this legislation is taken up by the House, I challenge my colleagues to set their personal beliefs aside and cast a vote that empowers the people to choose.

State Representative Bryan Brinyark is a member of the Alabama House, representing the people of District 16 covering parts of Fayette, Tuscaloosa, and Jefferson counties. 

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