By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, March 20, 2014, Alabama Secretary of State Candidate Reese McKinney (R) was in Moody to speak to members of the St. Clair County Republican Party. The Alabama Political Reporter was there to cover the event.
Reese McKinney said, “It is an honor to be here. I want to be your Secretary of State.” “It is a very important position for you and for the state.”
McKinney was the Probate Judge in Montgomery County. Probate Judge “Is a big big job and I took it very seriously.”
As Probate Judge McKinney said that he set up a no fee electronic filing for license tag renewals. “We did a lot to modernize the probate judge. We would have people in line six or seven hours.” McKinney said it was difficult to convince County Commissioners to get rid of the “convenience fees,” but eventually the government entities understand that time was money. “That worked for us in Montgomery.” He said that he enjoyed being Montgomery Probate judge and served for 15 years. He was appointed to finish his predecessor’s term and was then elected for two terms. He has been out of office for the last two years.
McKinney said, “Being a public servant is serious and I treat it seriously.”
McKinney was also a longtime member of the Alabama National Guard. “The Guard made a huge difference in my life.”
McKinney has two advanced degrees. He graduated from Huntington College, then started a family and moved to New York City where he got a second degree.
McKinney said he cherished his time in Montgomery working for Montgomery Mayor Emory Fulmer (R). “Fulmer is a great great guy and was truly a war hero in Korea. He did a lot for the country in that war.”
McKinney said that the two most important things that a Probate Judge does are: elections and handling business filings.
McKinney said that he has had had a small business since coming out of school. McKinney acknowledged that it was shaky at times.
Judge McKinney said that polling officials and the board of registrars are the foundation for honest elections. They are paid a small little stipend and go through extensive training.
McKinney said, “When I first got there in Montgomery I went to the Civic center and there were 8,000 people there to see a video. I immediately said we will never have this again.” McKinney said that he never trained more that 40 or 50 poll workers at a time.
McKinney stressed that it is important to do everything you can to have honest elections. “I was recognized nationally for the way we handle elections in Montgomery.”
Judge McKinney reminisced, “Election officials brought me some absentee ballots that seemed to have the same cursive handwriting.” McKinney asked his workers if this had happened before and they said yes but did not know what to do about it. “I took it to my district attorney.” Some of the people were brought in for questioning before the grand jury. Nothing could be proven. “They may have gotten smarter, but we never had that problem again.”
McKinney said that his office routinely turned in unused funds to the county general fund. McKinney said, “When I left office I left $1.7 million for the probate office.” McKinney inherited 99% of his employees in Montgomery County, but they bought in to the changes he was making. “Most employees are good employees with the right leadership,” McKinney said.
Judge McKinney said that business filings with the Sec. of State office can be handled electronically. McKinney said that business filings that now takes months can easily be handled quickly and efficiently without companies having to wait to do business in this state.
McKinney said that he is married to Beverely Gordy and is a Sunday School Teacher at Trinity Presbyterian Church. “I have really enjoyed my Church,” McKinney said.
McKinney said, “I am the only lifelong Republican, lifelong conservative in this race.” McKinney asked members present to compare the candidates. “I look forward to standing with you in the Secretary of State’s office.”
McKinney is running against state Representative John Merrill (R) from Tuscaloosa and Crenshaw County Probate Judge Jim Perdue.