By Steve Flowers
There have been quite a few political happenings in the Heart of Dixie during October. Birmingham has elected a new mayor. Thirty-six-year-old Randall Woodfin defeated two-term mayor William Bell.
I never got to know Bell that well; however, the few times I visited with him he seemed to be an affable fellow. He surely looked like a mayor. His distinguished demeanor and exquisite diction and appearance gave an elegant impression for Birmingham. He looked like he came out of Hollywood central casting.
Woodfin beat Bell the old-fashioned way. He went door-to-door with shoe leather and diligence. He met most of Birmingham’s voters one-on-one and it paid off. He beat Bell convincingly, 58 to 41. At 36 Woodfin will be the youngest Birmingham mayor in modern history.
In addition to changing mayors, Birmingham voters also ousted two longtime city council leaders, Johnathan Austin and Kim Rafferty. Austin was City Council President.
Alabama State University did a good days work when they selected State Senator Quinton Ross as their new president. Senator Ross is a gentleman of impeccable character and ability. Ross has served 15 years in the Alabama Senate with distinction. He is very well respected among his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
Even though being in the Democratic minority in the Senate, he has been able to work with the Republican majority to get an immense amount of things accomplished for his Montgomery district. His legislative and governmental experience will be invaluable in unlocking fundraising doors for the university.
Quinton Ross is an educator by profession with undergraduate and graduate degrees from his beloved Alabama State. He grew up in Montgomery, went to public schools and then continued his education degrees in his hometown. He is only 48 years old. He can build quite a legacy at Alabama State. He has the proper pedigree and love for his alma mater to make his tenure special.
Legendary coach Pat Dye worked diligently on behalf of Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate race. It did not hurt Moore any. Coach Dye is an icon in Alabama. He is a man’s man. I love to visit with him.
Even though he grew up on a farm in Georgia, he is a true Alabamian through and through. He reminds me some of our great folksy senator, Howell Heflin.
Heflin was a true Alabamian. However, his daddy was a Methodist minister. As you may know, Methodist ministers are moved often. His daddy was serving a stint in Georgia when Heflin was born. Judge Heflin was always a little embarrassed by this fact being as he was a U.S. Senator from Alabama. He would often say that his daddy was doing missionary work among the heathen.
Pat Dye grew up in Georgia and was an All American guard for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. He became a coach for Bear Bryant 45 years ago. He became Bryant’s most renowned recruiter. He was the mainstay of Bryant’s last decade. His recruiting was relentless. He learned every corner of the state. When Alabama took the field for the national championship game against Notre Dame in 1973, 24 of the 72 players were signed by Dye.
He went on to become one of Auburn’s greatest coaches. His decade at the helm was some of Auburn’s glory years.
He enjoys his life on his magnificent farm in East Alabama. He spends most of his time on his land hunting and fishing. However, he has gotten riled up about the fact that Alabama is losing an immense amount of money to our neighboring states of Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee because the powers that be will not let Alabamians vote on a lottery …
Our interim acting Attorney General, Steve Marshall, has shown his hand. Marshall, even though totally unknown, is running for a full term. The gambling interests have put their money on him …
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.