A week of progress has passed us

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 8, 2003

A week of progress has passed us

The Alabama Senate concluded its organizational session this past week, and for the first time in the 183-year history of our state a woman gaveled the Alabama Senate into session.

Democrat Lucy Baxley took her place as Lieutenant Governor and presiding officer of the Senate. Ms. Baxley opened the session with brief remarks during which she called for unity following a tough battle, which divided senators over the leadership position for the next four years.

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Following Ms. Baxley’s comments, several of us went to the microphone to express our pleasure at her having taken on this role. Each of us who spoke let her know that we are eager to have a smooth and effective Senate. I am personally persuaded that we can accomplish this goal.

I had the pleasure of serving in the Senate under Lucy’s former husband, Bill Baxley. In fact, I believe this may be the first time in the history of our country that both husband and wife have served a state as Lieutenant Governor.

My impression of Lt. Gov. Baxley, based on her first day in office, is that she will be a fair and efficient presiding officer. She had to make several rulings on her first day in the job and she did quite well.

One of my major concerns at this point is efforts by some to further polarize the Democrats and the Republicans. I have said in this column many times that I feel once an election is over that we should all be non-partisan and strictly pursue the issues which are in the best interest of our state. It doesn’t matter to me if a Republican or Democrat proposes a solution to a problem. My concern is taking the ideas and proposals offered and analyzing them for merit. If I feel a particular bill will help our state, I will vote for it no matter who is proposing it.

My efforts to seek a leadership post in the Senate fell one vote short last week. I felt then, and I feel now, that I had something new and fresh to offer with respect to the legislative process, but I fully understand the system and will now be supporting the efforts of those who are in leadership that are seeking to serve the best interests of our state.

It has been a very colorful and interesting week in the Capital City. My wife, Rosalind, and I attended the inaugural ball. Governor and Mrs. Riley spoke briefly to an audience in access of 4,000. Earlier that evening, I attended a reception honoring Bill Pryor who was re-elected to the office of Attorney General, and I also participated in a Governor’s reception honoring the Legislature.

Governor Riley has installed several new cabinet members, all of whom seem to be high quality individuals who have exhibited leadership in their respective former assignments. This could serve our state very well.

Last week in my column, I mentioned that I wanted to comment further about the selection of Luverne Mayor John Harrison to be the Director of the Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

John has served several terms as Mayor of Luverne and has done an outstanding job. He has been a leader in the Community Bankers Association and he has displayed considerable business skills as both a banker and a owner of several businesses.

Personally I think John is as excellent selection to serve in the Governor’s cabinet, and he should be right at home handling the many millions of dollars, which flows through ADECA. Although I do not know the total ins and outs of that assignment, I cannot help but feel it will be a rewarding position in that it helps our small communities with their infrastructure and their economic development opportunities.

I am prejudiced, I know, because I represent seven basically rural counties, but I strongly feel we need to give more attention to the non-metropolitan areas of our state.

Until next time, remember, &uot;I’ll go with you or I’ll go for you&uot; to help you solve any problem related to state government. Please call on me whenever you feel I can be of service.

Senator Wendell Mitchell can be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing to P O Box 225, Luverne, Alabama 36049.