August 4, 2017

What we’re hearing? Our state is tired of politics as usual.

The odometer in the Battle wagon keeps on ticking. We’re already over 4,000 miles traveled across Alabama, listening to what folks have to say about our state and the challenges it’s facing, and speaking with them about our plans for the state and why we’re working to win the battle for its future.

Steve Flowers, a former state representative, introduced me at the Troy Rotary Club. It didn’t seem so far away from home when I saw Ed Hedden, whose family has deep roots in Huntsville, and Mrs. Frank Williams, who hails from Dothan and whose late husband was a key role in Boeing’s move to Huntsville two decades ago. Just shows how big this state can be, how closely connected we are.

I left Troy and headed up to Centre and a meeting with 27 members of the Cherokee County Republican Executive Committee, led by Josh Summerford, who is with the Cherokee County Sherriff’s Office and is the chairman of the Cherokee County Republican Party.

What I heard from fellow Republicans there, as we do everywhere, is that everybody is looking for somebody to lead the state who has a track record of success, who is not part of the “Capitol Hill Gang,” somebody who has a plan, a strategy that can be used on a bigger scale in Montgomery. And we check off all those boxes.

I’m impressed by how smart and tech-savvy millennials are, but I always tell them they better keep an eye in the rear-view mirror because of that “Smartphone Generation” that’s coming up behind them. Those are the young people who have had smartphones since they were two years old, or it seems like it, and they know how to use them better than anybody.

I shared that last week when I was invited to speak to the Government Managed Information Systems (GMIS) Conference in Gulf Shores. We talked about cyber and our future, and how that’s a growing, important workforce for Alabama.

Through our CyberHuntsville initiative, we’ve become a leader in the cyber world, and we can build on what we’ve accomplished In Huntsville to make the state of Alabama a major player.

The key to that is education. It has to start at the kindergarten level and go all the way through the four-year colleges, to begin developing our workforce in cyber at an early age. We’ve expanded curriculum in Huntsville City Schools to ensure our students are college- and career-ready and we’ve demanded more accountability from our teachers and staff. As I told Michele Gerlach of the Andalusia Star-Leader when I visited there on this trip, “We wanted to make sure we got a year’s worth of education out of a year’s worth of teaching.”

Education is close to my heart and improving our schools across the state is a fundamental part of our plan to transform Alabama and lead to more jobs for our young people. If you don’t understand its importance to me, check out the video of my wife Eula and her “Free 2 Teach” program, and how she’s helping teachers throughout our county to improve their lives by providing supplies for their classrooms.

Students, educators, administrators, and support personnel across our state are headed back to school and as that new school year begins we want to wish them all the best for a successful year. They each play a huge role in the battle for Alabama’s future.   -Tommy