By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Dr. Stan Cooke says he is seeking the office of Lt. Governor to bring “strong leadership with integrity to guide the State’s legislative process” in the Senate.
Cooke says he is challenging Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey in the Republican primary because he believes that she has failed to meet Republicans expectations. He says that his meetings with Republicans across the State have convinced him that people want an alternative.
Cooke says the people’s interests have not been served and many important issues have not been addressed properly during Ivey’s tenure as Lt. Governor.
Cooke says he believes Ivey’s lack of leadership has lead to many failings and confusion within the Senate chambers:
“I don’t believe the current Lt. Gov. has served the people well…as a matter of fact I believe she has mismanaged the Senate. There have been some votes that could have been conducted in a proper manner and they were mismanaged and the legislation fell to the floor,” Cooke said. He also take issue with the fact that Ivey has hired her own parliamentarian at tax payer’s expense…After all three years serving in that position she still doesn’t know how to navigate…the senate is unacceptable.”
Ivey, in her second year as head of the Senate, hired a personal parliamentarian to interpret the rules, rather than using the Senate clerk, who has served as parliamentarian in the past.
In fact, several reports of chaos in the Senate have been laid at the current Lt. Governors feet. Cooke says a number of votes have devolved into confusion because, “…she doesn’t know how to navigate the rules…and there’s a lack of respect because of…a lack of knowledge, how she has managed previous votes, [which] has lead from one failure to another.”
But Cooke says he does not want to focus on the job that Ivey has not done but on what he would do differently.
“Areas…really dear to my heart and the key to the growth of this state are economic development, real education reform and how we fund the Judicial Branch of government.”
He believes that as Lt. Gov., he will be able to use his skills as a communicator to advocate business development in the state. He wants to work in concert with Gov. Bentley to promote growth throughout the state. Cooke says that several areas of the state have been left untouched by the state’s recent prosperity and wants to ensure that all Alabama prospers and not just a few areas. He says he applauds the efforts of everyone who has pushed for economic growth in the state and wants to use his skill-set to further their efforts.
Cooke wants to bring about education reform that includes educators in the process.
“I don’t believe you can make good eduction policy by excluding education leadership from the process. In the recent formation of the Accountability Act not one education leader from Private schools, Christian or K-12 was invited to participate in the process…I know why it happened but it’s not fair to the 760,000 students that attend Alabama schools,” said Cooke.
He believes the Accountability Act needs to be readdressed with all parties at the table.
Cooke says, if elected, he will look into how the State labels failing schools, ” I don’t think that process is right. I’m for the spirit of the Accountability Law, but some of the letter of the law is horrible. We’re allowing kids to leave one school and go to another. That’s like saying I’m allowing a student to leave a burning building to go to a building that’s not on fire but we haven’t put the fire out in the original building.”
He goes on to say, “I have great love and compassion for the educational system, I’m a product of that system, I’ve earned PhD’s, Master’s Degrees…and I don’t believe we’re addressing that problem the right way.”
He says he is also concerned about the State on the Judicial Branch of government. ” The Judicial Branch is guaranteed adequate funding by the Constitution, but that is not happening. They have lost $30 million over the last 10 years in funding,” Cooke said.
He says that the third branch of government must receive appropriate funding because, currently, “the work load is bogged down, and the courts can’t process the cases in a timely manner and the judges are short handed…so criminals are running free because we don’t have the money to prosecute crimes.” This he says is unacceptable and a solution much be found…We need to go back and look at the allocation of funds beginning with the three branches to make sure the Judicial Branch is adequately funded with respect to the Constitution and start from there.”
Cooke describes his leadership style as, “Very proactive, very aggressive, but also very respectful to both parties.” He says that while the Lt. Gov. is elected by the party process —and that he is not party blind—he will be guided by one principle: “what is best for the people of Alabama.”
Cooke says he is running, “To provide loyal leadership with integrity, to let the people have an honest choice and be an individual they can be proud in to serve, who would be prepared to step in as Governor at a moments notice.