Tuscaloosa businessman Tripp Powell announced his intention to run for the Alabama Senate District 21 seat Tuesday morning, setting up a primary contest with incumbent Republican Gerald Allen, who is seeking re-election to his fourth term in office.

The district includes much of Tuscaloosa County and all of Pickens County, and Allen has represented the area since 2010.

Powell, a Tuscaloosa native and University of Alabama alumnus, spent two decades at his family's Kuykendall & Powell Oil Co., Inc., including 10 years at the helm as owner and president of the petroleum company before selling their chain of locally owned gas stations in August 2020.

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In a Tuesday morning interview with the Tuscaloosa Thread, Powell pointed to his long history of civic service in the area, including leadership roles on the Alabama Small Business Commission, the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and Takeoff TCL, a group of local business leaders working to bring commercial air service to the Tuscaloosa National Airport.

"I work constantly to try to make Tuscaloosa a better place," Powell said. "I've taken every opportunity I've had to do so, to try to pay my 'civic rent.'"

Powell said he's been wondering what that the next step in that civic service should be and ultimately opted to run for the District 21 Senate Seat.

"I think this is the natural progression for me, and I'm in a great position personally and professionally to run," Powell said. "I am familiar with the needs of West Alabama, and I'm going to continue to work to improve the quality of life in this area win, lose or draw."

Allen told the Thread he was in Washington D.C. Tuesday morning at the time of Powell's announcement.

"Even as we speak, I am working in Washington for the citizens in my district and for the state of Alabama," Allen said.

The three-term incumbent said he welcomed competition from Powell and from Lisa Ward, a Lake View woman looking to become the Democratic nominee for the seat.

"Challengers and competitive races are part of the process and I welcome them," Allen said. "I have proven myself as a conservative through the many pieces of legislation I have sponsored and the citizens of my district know where I stand on every major issue we face today."

Ward, for her part, said Powell's announcement has not affected her determination to win the seat.

"I want to let you know that nothing has changed," Ward said in a video posted to Facebook. "My focus is the same. I was never running against anyone, I was running to unseat an ineffective incumbent who's been down there for a whole generation and has not helped the people of my community."

Primary elections for all state races will be held on May 24th, 2022. The statewide general election will follow on November 8th, 2022.

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