September 11, 2017

Republican Roots & Old Stomping Grounds

I got to turn the clock back more years than I want to think about this week when I went back to my old stomping grounds.

My first real political involvement was with the Young Republicans at the University of Alabama, starting with my sophomore year. As I like to say, that was back before it was cool to be a Republican in Alabama. It was in the Ford-Dole and Reagan-Bush days that was my formative time in politics, well before any of these college students were born.

I was invited to speak to the group and to spend some time talking with them informally. They were 50 strong – 49 men and one woman. I told them they really need to expand the demographics!

Being involved in campus politics helps develop you. It’s not just campus politics but campus service. I know it made me a better public servant.

I’ve been back on campus many times, but this was really interesting. We met in Bidgood Hall, where I took so many business classes. That was nostalgic, but it was also rejuvenating to see all the changes for the better across campus. More buildings, more learning platforms – and, of course, more students. The University of Alabama is doing what a university should be doing, and it gave me a lot of confidence in our four-year college system.

I got into Young Republicans for the same reason people get into the political field. You want to make your local community better, you want to make your state better, you want to make your nation better. You want to have a say into how your government works.

I was inspired by the young students who are there to try to figure out what they want to do with their lives, how they can be effective, what a difference they can make. I look at them and go, “Wow, I was there once, too.” Hopefully, I inspired them a little bit with the idea that you can make a difference, that I came out of Young Republicans and I get to take a helping hand into how to shape a community and shape a state.

Gov. Ivey made official last week what has been obvious as she’s crisscrossed the state the past month or so, presenting checks at so many places. She’ll be running for the seat that she inherited from Gov. Bentley after last spring’s scandal.

I welcome her to the campaign and to the conversations we’ve been having with people who are serious about improving our state’s image after the embarrassments in Montgomery. We’ve shared our plans on job creation, infrastructure and how to create an education system that will power job growth for the next generation of students, and how we’ve accomplished that in my 10 years as Mayor of Huntsville. I’m interested in hearing her plans.

But as I’ve said all along, our campaign isn’t against one candidate. It’s to build a better Alabama. I look forward to having you join me in making that happen.