September 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Governor Ivey’s election news and other announcements are hot topics in Alabama politics this month.

  • Gov. Ivey to Run: It’s official, Governor Kay Ivey, who for months deflected questions about her plans for 2018, formally announced she is seeking re-election next year. In recent weeks, she has put major effort into building up a campaign. The governor established a finance committee and began raking in money. It was recently announced the Ivey has raised more than $1 million so far for her campaign. In correspondence released by her campaign, Ivey, who became the state’s chief executive after Robert Bentley resigned in April, cited her efforts to improve ethics within state government, while hitting a traditional theme of economic development. Governor Ivey officially enters the campaign with a high approval rating and the power of incumbency.
  • Quinton Ross Named ASU President: The Alabama State University board of trustees named state Senator Quinton Ross as the university’s president. Ross, the Senate minority leader from Montgomery, is an ASU alum. It’s  where he earned an Ed.D. in educational leadership, policy and law. Ross has served in the Alabama Senate since 2002. He also served as director of adult education at Trenholm State Community College from 2004 to 2014 and since 2015, has been a consultant for the Alabama Education Association. ASU Board Chair Alfreda Green said Ross separated himself from the other candidates during his interview with the board and lauded him for his state connections and fundraising ability.
  • Sellers to Seek Full Term: Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Will Sellers, appointed to the court by Governor Kay Ivey, announced he will seek a full term in next year’s election. Sellers graduated from Hillsdale College in 1985 and received his law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1988. Sellers was a lawyer with the Balch & Bingham firm in Montgomery until his appointment to the court. Sellers was an Electoral College elector for Alabama in each of the last four elections. He has received endorsements from the Business Council of Alabama’s political action committee and the Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee.

September 2017 Group Watch: GP Announces New Facility

Georgia-Pacific announced a new lumber facility in Talladega that will bring in 100 full time jobs. Construction on the new $100 million lumber production facility is expected to begin in late 2018. Georgia-Pacific will be using the former plywood plant that closed in 2008 as the location for the new facility. The construction period, set for 12 months, will provide for around 120 people a day. Officials from the company said the availability of talent and natural resources makes Talladega an ideal site for the new lumber-production facility. They go on to say that the City of Talladega, Talladega County and the State of Alabama have been supportive of this new venture. Gov. Ivey was present for the announcement.

September 2017 Group Watch: AL State Superintendent Resigns

Alabama State Superintendent Michael Sentance resigned last week amid controversy and criticism from the State Board of Education and others in the education community. According to Gov. Ivey’s office and the Department of Education, Sentance resigned last Wednesday, the day before the board was scheduled to meet and consider his fate. State board members raised concerns earlier this year that Sentence was leaving them in the dark on things like proposed contracts and interventions. Sentence became the leader for Alabama public schools in August 2016. At that time, the Department of Education was under a cloud of controversy surrounding key board members’ involvement in allegedly running a smear campaign on superintendent candidate Dr. Craig Pouncey. At its regular meeting last Thursday, the State Board formally accepted the resignation of Mr. Sentence and appointed retired former superintendent Dr. Ed Richardson as interim superintendent.

August 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

Election announcements and committee moves top the list of political news right now.

  • Alabama Senate Race Results: Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was twice removed from the bench for thumbing his nose at the federal courts, was the leading vote getter in a crowded field seeking the Republican nomination. Incumbent Senator Luther Strange came in a not-too-distant second. They will face each other in a September 26 runoff to determine the Republican nominee. Former U.S. attorney Doug Jones of Birmingham easily outdistanced his Democratic challengers to win his party’s nomination without a runoff. He will face the Republican nominee in the general special election in December.
  • Senate Leader Marsh Will Seek Re-election: Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh announced he will seek re-election to the state Senate in 2018. Marsh had been high on lists of potential gubernatorial candidates but has said he was waiting for Governor Kay Ivey to make a decision about seeking the office. Ivey’s office said she is continuing to consider running for a full term and is close to a decision. Marsh said if he’s re-elected to the Senate, education and infrastructure would be his priorities. Marsh said he looks forward to working with Ivey, should she seek a full term.
  • House Speaker Announces Committee Changes: Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon recently announced several committee reassignments. McCutcheon said the changes will bring new ideas and fresh perspectives. They are: Alan Boothe (R-Troy) from Rules to Ethics and Campaign Finance; Prince Chestnut (D-Selma) from State Government to Judiciary; Danny Crawford (R-Athens) assigned to Agriculture and Forestry; Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham) from Judiciary to County and Municipal Government; Kelvin Lawrence (D-Hayneville) assigned to State Government; Tim Wadsworth (R-Arley) from State Government to Judiciary, and Jack Williams (R-Wilmer) from Agriculture and Forestry to State Government.

August 2017 Group Watch: Woman Takes Command of National Guard

Major General Sheryl E. Gordon was recently appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to head the Alabama National Guard. Gordon replaces Major General Perry Smith, who is retiring. Gordon is the first woman to serve as adjutant general of the guard. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Alabama Army National Guard in 1981. She has served in multiple command roles throughout the state. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Birmingham Southern College and Auburn University and a master’s in education administration from Auburn University at Montgomery.

August 2017 Group Watch: Alabama’s First Female Supreme Court Justice Dies

The first female member of the Alabama Supreme Court, Janie Shores, has died. Shores, who also was once considered as a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee, died recently at her home in Baldwin County days after suffering a stroke. Shores was first elected to the state Supreme Court in 1974 as a Democrat and served until her retirement in 1999. Then-President Bill Clinton considered her for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, but the seat ultimately went to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A gathering for local residents was held Friday at St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope. A memorial service was held later that day in Birmingham where she lived for more than 40 years.

July 2017 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

The governor’s race is heating up along with the temps. Here’s the latest buzz on on that as well as some other political news.

  • Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announces plans to explore run for governor: Maddox recently announced plans to explore running for Alabama governor in 2018. Maddox is using the slogan “Make Alabama proud again.” He says the most difficult decision of running for governor lies ahead, and he will continue to focus on his responsibilities as a husband, father and mayor. Maddox says that many have urged him to switch parties for convenience, but he says he has no plans to abandon the Democratic Party. He declared that the days of party rule should end, and that candidates should run for the people of Alabama. Maddox has been mayor since 2005 and won a fourth term earlier this year in a landslide. He has been praised for his economic development work and handling of the aftermath of the deadly 2011 tornadoes that hit the city.
  • State Senator Bill Hightower jumps into the race: Hightower, R-Mobile, is expected to formally announce plans to run for governor. Hightower has filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office to form a campaign committee for a gubernatorial campaign. He is the first legislator to enter the race. Hightower was interviewed by former Governor Robert Bentley earlier this year for appointment to the U.S. Senate to replace Jeff Sessions. He first won the Senate seat in a 2013 special election and was re-elected in 2014. He also owns an international corporate strategic consulting company.

July 2017 Group Watch: Dr. Tom Miller Retiring as Alabama State Health Officer

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Tom Miller recently announced he is retiring this fall. Reports indicate that he is slated to retire September 1, 2017. Dr. Miller assumed the position in 2015 following the retirement of Dr. Don Williamson. Miller was highly regarded in health circles but came under fire for hiring the former director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System who was terminated in 2014 for neglect of duty. The hire was rescinded following the backlash.

July 2017 Group Watch: Alabama Education Board Drops Testing Contract

The Alabama State Board of Education has voted unanimously against renewing the ACT Aspire testing contract. The contract decision affects the 2017-18 school year. The vote comes after news that ACT Aspire reports for schools across Alabama would be delayed due to coding errors in the formatting of results. Data from the ACT Aspire is supposed to help local schools and parents have access to detailed information on student progress. This information is then supposed to help improve instruction for the next school year and helps parents understand their students’ progression. A Request for Proposals (RFP) is forthcoming.

July 2017 Group Watch: Gov. Ivey’s First 100 Days

Governor Kay Ivey is touting the progress she and her administration have made during her first 100 days in office in a new video, including the improvements to our state’s infrastructure. Watch it here.

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