By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, December 18, the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans (GBYRs) met at the Wine Loft in Birmingham for their annual Christmas Party. While feasting, networking, and fellowship were the primary focus of the evening, the GBYRs also voted on their favorite (Republican) elected official of the year by secret ballot.
GBYR Chair Jackie Curtis announced that State Representative Jack Williams (R from Vestavia) was voted as this year’s winner.
Rep. Williams said on Facebook, “Thank you to the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans for selecting me as their 2014 Elected Official of the Year. I am honored by your confidence and continued support.”
Representative Jack Williams is best known for his enthusiastic support for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB); the State’s largest employer and one of the three largest Universities in the State. That advocacy for UAB has turned into a steely resolve to pass legislation that would reform the Board of Trustees to give UAB and the University of Alabama at Huntsville equal representation on the own Boards of Trustees and make the process of selecting BOT members more democratic.
The “Free UAB” movement has gained new momentum after the controversial unilateral decision by UAB President Ray Watts to end UAB’s football program. While President Watts claims that the decision to eliminate football as well as the women’s bowling and rifle teams was his and his alone, angry UAB boosters suspect that the University of Alabama System’s Board of Trustees had an over-sized influence in the decision, which was made in a secretive process that allowed for no faculty or public input.
The UAB Faculty Senate will consider a no confidence vote on Ray Watts’ leadership in its meeting in January. The resolution reads, “……THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that recent decisions by President Ray Watts were exercised in a manner that demonstrates no respect for, or commitment to, shared governance. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the UAB faculty has no confidence in President Ray Watts and his ability to lead the University going forward.”
The UAB Faculty Senate is also considering a resolution supportive of UAB football and denouncing the secretive manner in which the decision to cancel football was made.
The City Councils of Hoover and Pinson have recently joined the growing list of cities who have passed resolutions to bring back UAB football.
The “Free UAB” legislation will be one of the subjects which the Alabama Legislature will consider in the coming 2015 legislative session.
Rep. Williams told the Alabama Media Group that football helps drive enrollment and that each additional 1,000 students has a $5 million economic impact.