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GOP candidates speak to Huntsville Tea Party

Brandon Moseley

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Three of the four Republican candidates for governor were in Huntsville at the Huntsville Tea Party gubernatorial forum.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said that as Mayor he has brought 24,000 jobs to the City of Huntsville and that he wants to do the same thing, just bigger for the whole state. Battle said that he wans to see everyone of the young people coming out of the schools in Alabama to stay here and get a job and be successful here. “This is the sixteenth forum that we have done; and this is the sixteenth forum that Gov. Ivey has not been here,” Battle said.

State Senator Bill Hightower said, “I am from Mobile. I am a businessman. I worked for large manufacturing companies for most of my career.” After 9-11 my wife and I moved back to Alabama and ran several small businesses. My pastor and others came to me and said, why don’t you run for office. I ran against Montgomery’s preferred candidate and I was outspent ten to one.

“Mike Hubbard’s people did not want me there,” Hightower said. “When I came to Montgomery, I did not owe anyone there anything. I voted for what I wanted to vote for. I was one of the most conservative state Senators.” I voted for term limits and for a flat tax. Kay Ivey has no voting record. I am the only one running with a record of voting.

“We have had a dermatologist for governor,” Hightower said. “We have had a lawyer for governor. We have never really had a businessman as governor. I want to be your CEO.” Go to my website and read my plan: 12 steps to Changing Alabama.

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Scott Dawson said, “This is my first foray into politics. For thirty years I have been in ministry.” I tried to find someone to be part of a grassroots movement to run for governor eventually I ran myself.

Battle said of the prisons, that before we send someone to prison, “We need to make sure that these are the ones we need to be spending $39,000 a year on.” When they leave prison, they need to have earned a GED and received some job skills or they will be going back to prison. If they have a job they will pay taxes instead of costing us $39,000 a year.

Hightower said, “I was in the Senate when Governor Bentley brought his $900 million plan.” Prison should not be about locking someone up but instead be about bringing someone back to a purposeful life. We have to fix the prisons or the federal government will come and make us do it and it will cost a lot more.

Dawson said that he grew up in Ensley and there is not a mother in Ensley that is praying that her son gets to live in a bigger better prison. We need to do something about mental health. Right now, law enforcement has no option with the mentally ill other than to lock them up or turn them loose. We have to get a grip on drug abuse. “It is called a correctional facility it should not be a generational facility.”

Hightower said that the flat tax would makes it easier to do business in Alabama. Many times my wife has come home from her business and said that the state does not want her to make a profit.

Dawson said that he talked with one CEO in Birmingham who said that every week they joke about moving to Georgia so that Alabama will offer them the incentives that the state is offering out of state businesses to move here. Dawson said that we should cut the red tape and regulations and set Alabama businesses free.

Battle said, “85 percent of our people work for small businesses.”  “We are bringing in Toyota and Mazda and they are bringing in thousands of suppliers,” Battle said. Many of these suppliers will be customers of small businesses.

Dawson said that he read a book by former Governor Fob James. When James came into office he had to deal with prison overcrowding, education, and roads. The next governor will have to deal with prison overcrowding, education, and roads.

Dawson said that $63 million of money that is supposed to be earmarked for roads is taken away from ALDOT right off the top for other agencies. That does not  sound like a lot; but over twelve years that is almost a $billion. “A $billion will build a lot of roads.” If we get rid of all the legislative earmarks we can provide money for roads.

Battle said, “We have got to take our roads seriously. We have got too make a better system. We have got to improve that system.” I-65 is at over capacity. Not only are we not doing anything about it, we don’t have a plan to do anything about it.

Hightower said that he presented a plan to the legislature to use the BP oil spill settlement money for roads. It passed the Senate; but when it got to the House the special interests killed it. We need infrastructure improvements; but I want reform before we get more revenue.

Battle said forty percent of our prisoners have a mental health problem.

Hightower said that he is concerned about DHR. They are overworked. We have thrown the mentally ill in prisons. In Mobile County drugs for the prisoners is a bigger expense than anything else in the jails and the problem is growing. Autism is growing. We have to deal with mental health as a community.

Scott Dawson said, “Mental health is a crisis in our state.” A federal mandate could be coming if we don’t address it. “We have got to open up new beds and long term we have got to get a grasp on mental health.”

Hightower said that he is very Pro-Life and introduced the bill to ban the sale of baby body parts in Alabama.

Hightower said that he does not watch the violent video games and movies because it desensitizes me to violence. What we are doing to our kids through the culture is wrong.

Dawson said that in Alabama, “We dare defend our rights. I believe in the Second Amendment. The absolute right of our constitution for you to bear arms,” is guaranteed by the Constitution. “We should not waiver any of the rights that our founding fathers gave us.”

Battle said that when Remington came to Alabama they told them you are going to get some bad comments. Battle responded, “You do realize that you are coming to Alabama don’t you?” There was a poll and 97 percent were in favor of Remington coming and only 2.5 percent were opposed. “We support the right to bear arms here.” They are a great industry. We are proud to have them here.

Dawson said that he wants to, “Replace Common Core standards It is time to get rid of Common Core.” “I am not opposed to standards. I want Alabama standards from Alabama teachers that understand Alabama values.”

Battle said, “The state standards need to stay steady. We need to have a state set of standards that can move us forwards.”

Hightower said that he favors repealing Common Core and pledged to, “Work toward repealing that and creating our own Alabama standards.”

Governor Kay Ivey was unable to attend as she had an event in Etowah County that same night.
The major party primaries will be on June 5.

Hometown Mayor Tommy Battle overwhelmingly won the straw poll with 53 1st Choice votes.  Scott Dawson was second with 30 votes  Bill Hightower had 21 votes and Kay Ivey had 4.

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Fastest growth in Alabama: Baldwin, Lee Counties and the Greater Huntsville area

Brandon Moseley

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There are 383 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) in the country. The Census Bureau estimates that only seven of the twelves MSAs in Alabama have experienced any growth since the 2010 census.

From 2010 to 2017 the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley MSA has grown from just 182,265 in 2010 to 212,612 people in 2017. That is an incredible 16.68 percent increase. That makes the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley MSA in Baldwin County the thirteenth fastest growing MSA on a growth rate basis nationally.

The Auburn-Opelika MSA has grown from 140,247 to 161,604. That is a 15.23 percent growth rate and is number 19 in growth rate in the nation.

The Huntsville MSA has grown from 417,953 people in 2010 to 445,448 people in 2017. That is a 9.07 percent growth over that time period.

The three county Tuscaloosa metro area has grown from 230,262 people in 2010 to 242,299 persons in 2017. That is a 5.49 percent increase.

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The Birmingham-Hoover metro area is the largest MSA in the state. It has grown from 1,128,047 persons in 2010 to 1,149,807 people in 2017. That is a 1.93 percent increase. Birmingham-Hoover is the 49th largest MSA in the country; but is only number 245 in growth rate nationally.

The Dothan MSA has a 2017 population of 147,914, up from 145,639 persons in 2010. That is a 1.56 percent increase.

The Mobile MSA increased from 412,993 people in 2010 to 413,955 in 2017. That is an increase of just .23 percent.

The Florence-Muscle Shoals MSA has an estimated 2017 population of 147,038. That is a decline from 147,137 persons in 2010. That is a .07 percent decline.

The four county Montgomery MSA had a 2010 population of 374,536. The Census Bureau estimated that that population has declined to 373,903. That is a .17 percent decline.

The Decatur MSA has a 2010 population of 153,829. The Census Bureau estimates that the MSA has declined to just 151,867 in 2017. That would be a 1.28 percent decline.

The Gadsden MSA which consists of just Etowah County had a 2010 population of just 104,430. The Census Bureau estimates that Etowah County has dropped to just 102,755 people. That is a decline of 1.60 percent since the last census.

The Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville MSA which consists of just Calhoun County had a 2010 population of just 118,582 people. The Census Bureau estimates that the Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville MSA has a population in 2017 of just 114,728. That is a decline of 3.24 percent which would rank Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville at number 361 out of 383 MSAs in terms of growth rate.

The state was hit extremely hard in the Great Recession, which was exacerbated by the confusion and chaos surrounded the Jefferson County bankruptcy. Jefferson County is by far the largest county in the state; but experienced several post recession years where financial issues surrounding the massive sewer system debt made it difficult for the state’s largest county to compete to recruit new employers. As a result, a lot of jobs and young people entering the prime of their working careers left the Birmingham-Hoover MSA to pursue greater opportunities elsewhere. The Birmingham area has also been hard hit by gang violence and the opioid crisis.

Huntsville on the other hand grew despite cuts in military spending during the presidency of Barack H. Obama (D). Now, President Donald J. Trump (R) is President and there is strong bipartisan support for increased defense spending. As the home of Redstone Arsenal and numerous defense contractors, Huntsville is uniquely positioned to benefit from increased spending on military research and weapon systems. Additionally Huntsville has grown their manufacturing and high tech sectors.  According to the Census Bureau, Huntsville passed Mobile in population in 2016 for the position as the third largest city in the state. There are projections showing that Huntsville will surpass Birmingham as the largest city in Alabama within five years.

The Census estimates that 4,875,000 people lived in Alabama in 2017, up from 4,785,000 in 2010. 2,383,113 Alabamians live in the four largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery MSAs. That is over 48.88 percent of the state.

Governor Kay Ivey (R) is encouraging everyone to participate in the 2020 Census that congressional reapportionment is based on. At this point, there appears to be a strong likelihood that Alabama could go from the current Seven Congressional Districts to just six based on early population growth estimates.

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Governor Ivey grand marshalls Winfield Mule Day Festival

Brandon Moseley

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via Kay Ivey for Governor Campaign

Saturday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) was on the campaign trail in Winfield where she was the grand marshal of the mule day festival.‏
“Glad to be in Winfield for the 44th Mule Day Festival!” Gov. Ivey said on social media. “It was such an honor serving as the grand marshal of the parade & being a part of this annual Alabama tradition. I enjoyed meeting the many festival goers & participants!”

Both Kay Ivey and her opponent, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter “Walt” Maddox (D) were busy this weekend campaigning with just six weeks left until the November 6 general election. Maddox attended campaign appearances in Mobile.

Winfield’s Mule Day began Friday with Mule Night Madness which was from around 6:00 pm until midnight. The Encore Mule Night 5K race was at midnight in downtown. On Saturday vendors opened their booths before 9:00 am and stayed open until the afternoon. The parade was at 11:00 am in historic downtown Winfield. The Civil War re-enactment of the Skirmish at Luxapillila Creek was at 2:00 pm on Saturday and 2:00 pm on Sunday at the park.

Winfield is in state Senate District Six, which is one of the most competitive state Senate races. Both incumbent Senator Dr. Larry Stutts (R-Sheffield) and challenger state Representative Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay) were also in the parade.

As Grand Marshal, Gov. Ivey rode in the lead wagon in the parade drawn by a pair of red mules. More mules pulling wagons followed, along with the Danville High School band, parade riders on horseback, antique tractors, beauty contest winners, and Civil War re-enactors.

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Mule are the sterile hybrid offspring produced by crossing a horse with a donkey.  Mules played a tremendous role in American agriculture before being replaced by tractors.  George Washington was an early American mule breeder.

Organizers want anyone who is present to share their pictures of the 44th Mule Day festival.

“We NEED your HELP!! Please SHARE! Mule Day – Winfield, Alabama is collecting photographs from this years Mule Day. As many of you know, Winfield is getting their very own museum. We are needing as many photographs as possible to be a part of the Mule Day Collection. Please tag us and use the hashtag #muleday2018 #muledaywinfieldalabama. We want pictures of the parade, vendors, tractors, mules, car show, entertainment, carnival, Mule Night 5k Glow Run, civil war re-enactment & ball, your children, your family, your food experience, your shopping experience. Anything that pertains to Mule Day. Let’s see 👀 those photographs! We hope you have a wonderful and fun time at Mule Day – Winfield, Alabama. September 21, 22 & 23, 2018 Winfield Main Street Program, Inc The Pastime Theatre Winfield, Alabama Skirmish At Luxapallila Creek/Mule Day/ Winfield, AL. Sept.22, 23-2018 Winfield Chamber of Commerce Encore Rehabilitation – Winfield Skirmish At Luxapallila Creek/Mule Day/ Winfield, AL. Sept.22, 23-2018 Winfield Main Street Program, Inc.”

Gov. Ivey has been emphasizing the robust economy, her work in job creation, and the record low levels of unemployment.

“Alabama’s pro business climate has earned yet another top 3 publication ranking!” Gov. Ivey announced on social media Friday. “Thank you @AreaDevelopment for recognizing the tremendous economic development efforts going on here. AL has an unparalleled workforce, & we’re always looking to expand our #MadeinAL family!”

Maddox however is emphasizing the expansion of entitlements and will be holding a press conference on Monday in Montgomery to promote Medicaid expansion.

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Kay Ivey attends HudsonAlpha’s grand opening of Paul Propst Center

Brandon Moseley

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via Kay Ivey for Governor campaign

Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) was in Huntsville for the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology’s ribbon cutting ceremony for their newest expansion.

The Paul Propst Center is a 105,000 square foot building and is named to honor the memory of the father of Huntsville businessman and philanthropist William “Bill” Self Propst. Propst’s father, Paul, was a North Alabama minister.

“Technology is rapidly advancing in today’s world, and this facility will give scientists, educators, and entrepreneurs an opportunity to not only keep up but lead the way in biotechnology.” Governor Ivey said, “Following the ribbon cutting, I had a chance to tour HudsonAlpha’s new center and see firsthand the great work going on here. I fully anticipate and look forward to what revolutionary breakthroughs are next.”

“The research, education and economic development efforts happening at HudsonAlpha are revolutionizing the way that Alabamians live and the way the world lives, which is why I am so proud to join them in expanding those efforts through the addition of the Paul Propst Center,” Gov. Ivey said. “Thanks to HudsonAlpha, Alabama will be the state to make good on the promise of having 21st-century healthcare and agriculture.”

In addition to Gov. Ivey the event was attended by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), Alabama State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), and Huntsville area economic developer Nicole Jones.

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“HudsonAlpha is a leader in biotechnology and genomic research. Once again, they are on the cutting edge with the opening of the Paul Propst Center,” Rep. Brooks said. “The Paul Propst center is truly a state of the art building and will strengthen a workforce that continues the advancement of the biosciences economy in North Alabama. I was proud to participate in their ribbon cutting today.”

“This campus is a shining star for the state of Alabama, for this community, and the world stage,” Speaker McCutcheon told WHNT Channel 19.

“Bioscience, one of the State of Alabama’s targeted industries, brings in an estimated annual economic impact of $7.3 billion,” Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter. “The vision of HudsonAlpha Founders Jim Hudson and Lonnie McMillan contributes significantly to that number, and more importantly, enhances the quality of life of mankind.”

“At HudsonAlpha, members of the public and private sector partner to make innovations in biotechnology happen.” Nicole Jones added, “HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, literally and metaphorically, is built upon principles of collaboration. It has been an incredible opportunity to witness the institute’s growth over the past decade. Huntsville, Alabama is changing the world with the brilliant minds at HudsonAlpha.”

The Paul Propst Center is made possible by the state of Alabama and community support, including the generosity of Mr. Propst.

“Throughout my career, I have been focused on improving people’s health. My family and I continue to work towards these goals,” said Propst. “I see those working at HudsonAlpha with the same commitment to making life better. We are honored to be able to support HudsonAlpha as they continue to grow and make advancements.”

“HudsonAlpha is really helping us develop an industry that will drive not only the future of Huntsville but the future of healthcare as we know it. Cures for diseases will come out of HudsonAlpha that will impact the lives of our children and children’s children for decades to come,” said Mayor Tommy Battle.

“HudsonAlpha has accomplished so much in the only ten years, all of which would not have been possible without the support our community,” said HudsonAlpha co-founder Jim Hudson. “Cutting the ribbon today on the Paul Propst Center was a special moment not only for me, but all of us at HudsonAlpha and in Huntsville.”

The Propst Center has a similar look and feel to the flagship building at 601 Genome Way, the Propst Center will house components of HudsonAlpha’s education and research programs, and growing biotech companies. The details in design, glass walls, common sidewalks, a grand staircase, are intended to create a “team science” environment and contribute to the culture of collaboration.

“The vision of the institute’s founders is to see discoveries and advancements quickly occur with research and business working together,” said HudsonAlpha Vice President for Economic Development Carter Wells. “Today, we celebrate not just the continuation but a strengthening of the culture of collaboration and innovation created 10 years ago.”

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Jay Mitchell campaigns in St. Clair County

Brandon Moseley

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Republican nominee for the Alabama Supreme Court Jay Mitchell addressed the influential St. Clair County Republican Party at City Market Grill in Pell City Thursday.

Mitchell said that he wants to go to Montgomery and be part of, “Restoring confidence in what we do in Montgomery.”

Jay Mitchell said that he was born in Mobile and grew up in the Wiregrass. When he was ten, his family moved to Homewood. Mitchell went to Birmingham Southern where he played basketball and was part of a Division 3 basketball national championship team. Mitchell went to the University of Virginia School of Law, where he met his wife.

Mitchell and his wife, Elizabeth live in Homewood, with their four children. Jay is a partner with Maynard, Cooper & Gale in Birmingham. He has handled numerous cases at both the trial and appellate levels. He is recognized as one of the top attorneys in the United States

Mitchell said that if he is elected to the Alabama Supreme Court he is going to focus on what does the law say. “I believe that we have a responsibility as the Judiciary to stay on the right side of our boundary line and not become some sort of a super legislative group.”

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“I am not running for a paycheck, I am not running for a safe seat,” Mitchell said. I am going to Montgomery to work.

Mitchell said that he is glad that if he goes to Montgomery that St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor (R) will be working in the Judicial Building with him. Minor is the Republican nominee for the Court of Criminal Appeals. Minor has no Republican opponent.

Mitchell said that retired St. Clair County Judge Jim Hill does a great job representing St. Clair County in the Alabama legislature.

Mitchell said that “there is a great forgetting going on” right now. We are forgetting how the country was founded, the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, and how men have sacrificed to protect our liberties. Mitchell promised that if he is elected to the Alabama Supreme Court that he will take time to talk to school groups. I am committed to do my part to help educate the next generation about this country.

Mitchell’s race is one of just two state appellate court races where the Democrats fielded a candidate. Mitchell faces Jasper attorney Donna Wesson Smalley (D) in the November general election.

Associate Justice Tom Parker (R) is running against Jefferson County Judge Robert Vance (D) for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

Former St. Clair Republican Party Chairman Paul Thibado said that we need to put a lot of effort into recruiting new people particularly young people to the county party. St. Clair County should be an industrial mecca.

St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Lance Bell said that the newly elected St. Clair County Republican Party representative on the State Republican Executive Committee Emory Cox has had to resign his post because he has taken a job in the White House.

The St. Clair County Party Executive Committee members there elected St. Clair County School Board Attorney John Rhea to fill the vacancy. There was no opposition.

Bell said that Richard Minor was also stepping down from the State Republican Executive Committee and that the county party executive committee will vote on his replacement next month. The October meeting is tentatively set to be held in Moody.

St. Clair County Circuit Clerk Annette Manning Hall reminded the Republicans present that absentee ballots become available at her office on Monday, September 24.

Bell said that Kay Ivey’s St. Clair County Chairman Bill Morris was going to need help manning stations at the polls on election day.

Gov. Kay Ivey (R) faces Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter “Walt” Maddox (D).

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GOP candidates speak to Huntsville Tea Party

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 6 min
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