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July 2014 Group Watch: News & Views from the State House

In keeping with the summer heat, some hotly contested runoff elections are decided. Plus, two new important appointments.

  • Runoff Results: In the spirited campaign for the open congressional seat in District 6 Gary Palmer received 64% of the vote to Paul DeMarco’s 36%. Gary receives the Republican nomination, which is likely tantamount to a victory in November. In the Republican runoff for Secretary of State John Merrill captured 53% of the vote to Reese McKinney’s 47%. In the GOP runoff for State Auditor Jim Zeigler received 65% to Dale Peterson’s 35%. Chip Beeker out-distanced his opponent Terry Dunn by a 59%-41% tally to win the GOP runoff for Place #2 on the Public Service Commission.
  • New Leader at Public Safety: John Richardson, a former enforcement official with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, was recently named acting Director of Public Safety, replacing Colonel Hugh McCall who retired after 34 years with the agency. Richardson has worked as an undercover narcotics officer and served in the U.S. Marines. Although Richardson has the title as “acting”, a spokesperson for Governor Robert Bentley says he is not considering anyone else for the position and once the consolidation of state law enforcement agencies id complete, the acting will be dropped.
  • New State School Board VP: The Alabama State Board of Education has selected Ella Bell as vice president. By statute, Governor Robert Bentley is president of the board and the vice president serves as the presiding officer in the governor’s absence. State School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice said he believes Bell will be an effective leader for the board. He went on to say, she believes in students and will stand up for students who are underrepresented. Bell said that she looks forward to working with the board to advance Plan 2020, a master plan for improving state schools.

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