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Constitutional officers sworn in on inauguration day

Brandon Moseley

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Monday, Alabama’s constitutional officers were sworn in for four year terms at a ceremony in front of the state capitol in Montgomery.

A jubilant Kay Ivey was sworn in by Alabama Associate Justice Will Sellers.

“Over the course of these past 20 months, I have felt your prayers and your love. Both have truly made a difference, and I am grateful,” Gov. Ivey said. “The scripture reminds us in Psalm 118 Verse 24, “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Indeed, today is a day to rejoice for all of Alabama!”

“Like most of my predecessors, my pathway to this spot was certainly not predetermined or even likely,” Ivey said. “Alabama is a state where dreams do come true. Because in Alabama, anything is possible. It goes without saying, I am truly honored and humbled to lead this great state. But I have not made this journey alone. To the good people of Alabama, I say thank you.”

“On the platform with me today are our current constitutional officers, Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth, Attorney General Marshall, Auditor Ziegler, Secretary of State Merrill, Treasurer McMillan and Agriculture Commissioner Pate,” Ivey said. “Also on the platform, we recognize Public Service Commissioners Jeremy Oden and Chip Beeker. The people of Alabama thank all of you for your commitment to public service and for your dedication to them. Also joining me are members of our State Board of Education sworn in today. Board Members Doctor McCarty, Doctor Richardson and West, as well as Doctor Reynolds who could not be here today.”

Ivey recognized the former Governors that were present on stage: Bob Riley, Robert Bentley, Don Siegelman, and Jim Folsom Jr. Jeff Sessions was also present and was part of the parade.

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“A very special Alabamian and my longtime friend from Wilcox County is here today – former U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions!” Ivey said. “Jeff, I am thrilled that you are on stage with me. If you’re from Wilcox County, you just never know where you’ll end up.”

“The good news on this Inauguration Day is that our budgets are strong and our financial health is good,” Ivey continued. “More Alabamians are working today than ever before and our economy continues to grow and prosper.”

“Fifty years ago, one of my childhood heroes, Governor Lurleen Wallace, was sworn in as the first woman governor in Alabama and only the second in our nation’s history,” Ivey said. “Although she is not with us in person, her spirit, life and legacy live on to this day. In her memory, I’ve requested that an empty chair be placed on the platform. We are honored to have her daughter Peggy with us today representing the Wallace family. In her Inaugural address, Governor Wallace called on the Alabama Legislature to, among other things, provide greater funding to build and improve our roads. Interestingly, on January 21st, 1919, when Governor Kilby was sworn in to office, during the year we celebrated our Centennial, he, too, called for a commitment to improve our roads and bridges. I am very hopeful that 50 or 100 years from now, Governors will not have to include requests to improve our infrastructure.”

“Improving our infrastructure is more than an investment in our roads and bridges; it’s an investment in economic development, public safety and local communities,” Ivey claimed. “It has been nearly three decades since we last made any changes to our current funding, and the challenge has grown with the passing of time. Now is the time to increase our investment in infrastructure – now is the time to solve this problem!”

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Sources have told the Alabama Political Reporter that a two hundred page draft of a bill is being prepared that could raise fuel taxes by over 24 cents a gallon and impose a tax on all electric cars. Proponents hope to rush the bill through the legislature in the first two weeks of the legislative session in March.

“Much like our roads and bridges, our prison system, too, has been sorely neglected for decades,” Ivey said. “The poor conditions of our prisons create a risk to public safety and are placing a heavy burden on taxpayers. The status of our corrections system is an Alabama problem that must be solved by an Alabama solution. As your governor, I plan to do so. We are revitalizing our statewide corrections system by replacing costly, at-risk prison facilities. This effort will ensure that Alabama stays committed to statewide prison reform, and we will be announcing more detailed plans in the coming days.”

The Alabama Political Reporter has been told that Gov. Ivey plans to go around the legislature and sign an agreement with a private company to lease four as yet unbuilt, massive 7,000 to 9,000 prisoner new mega prisons, while closing 17 to 21 existing state prisons. The cost of the mega prisons is estimated to be at least a $billion.

“Standing here on Dexter Avenue, we are reminded of two different chapters in Alabama history: a time when the Civil War raged and 90 years later when the Civil Rights movement was inspired,” Ivey said.

“Today, I stand before you filled with optimism and eager with anticipation of what’s yet to come,” Ivey said. “More good paying jobs. Better education for our children. Roads that are the envy of the nation. But one thing is for sure…We cannot do this work alone.”

Will Ainsworth was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor by Judge Lyles Burke.

“The more than one million Alabamians who used their votes to express their faith in our vision have our everlasting thanks, and I pledge to work every day to earn the trust and confidence of those who supported my opponent,” Ainsworth said. “The campaign is over, the ballots have been cast, and now is the time for us to come together as proud and united Alabamians who are dedicated to making an already great state even better.”

“Let us work to be known as the state that leads the U.S. in job creation and economic development because our citizens possess a work ethic second to none and our workforce development efforts provide an army of job ready applicants,” Ainsworth continued. “Let us work to be known as a state that demands excellence in the classroom and is willing to take the steps necessary to provide a world-class public education system. Our “First Class” Pre-K program already leads the nation and provides a model that other states are following, so we should resolve to top every measure in our K-12, post secondary, and four-year offerings, as well.”

“Let us work to be known as a state whose government is as hardworking, honest, and effective as the citizens it seeks to serve,” Ainsworth said. “We must no longer accept corruption as a natural by-product of public service, and we must punish those who violate the public trust from the local courthouse to the Alabama State House.”

Judge Michael Joyner administered the oath of office to Attorney General Steve Marshall.

Marshall asked that everyone remember the Birmingham Police Officer who was killed on duty over the weekend.

Marshall said that it is a high honor to be sworn in this morning to continue as Alabama’s 48th Attorney General. Marshall said that it is an honor to serve as our state’s Chief Legal Counsel and to serve as its Chief Law Enforcement officer.

Marshall said that it is his responsibility to defend the laws of Alabama, to protect Alabama’s sovereignty, and to work to make the people free from the fear of violence.

“I have never backed down from a fight and I will not start that now,” Marshall said.

State Auditor Jim Zeigler was sworn in by Chief Justice Thomas Parker.

“The people of Alabama have hired us to work for you on a four year contract,” Zeigler said. “I have been blessed to be your state auditor.” Zeigler said that he is term limited and would continue to be a watchman for the people of Alabama.

State Representative Mike Jones swore in John Harold Merrill for another term as Secretary of State.

“As your 53rd Secretary of State it is my honor to travel to all 67 counties,” Merrill said. “We want every eligible U.S. citizen in Alabama to be a registered vote and have a voter ID card.”

Merrill said that as Secretary of State he has decreased his staff from 49 and 39 while reducing the time to complete business filings. Merrill said that his office no longer works at the speed of government; but instead works at the speed of business.

John McMillan was sworn in as Treasurer by his granddaughter Elle McMillan.

“We have finally got a team in place that can finally address some of the challenges that this state faces,” McMillan said. “I would like to thank my predecessor Young Boozer for the great job that he did.”

Rick Pater was sworn in as Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries by his pastor.

Jeremy Oden was sworn in and Chris “Chip” Beeker Jr. were sworn in for second terms on the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Chief Justice Parker administered the oath of office to the members of the school board.

The officers that were sworn in today were all Republicans. This term will end in January 2023.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Governor meets with VIP

Brandon Moseley

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Gov. Kay Ivey and fourth grade student Cate McGriff. Photo Credit: Governor's office.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey invited a special guest to meet with her in the Governor’s office on Friday.

Fourth grade student Cate McGriff met with Governor Ivey Friday afternoon. The discussion was described as wide-ranging and productive. The governor and McGriff covered everything from school to their love of dogs.

Gov. Ivey asked Miss. McGriff what her favorite subject in school is.

McGriff replied that it was math. She also told the governor that she wanted to attend Auburn University just like Gov. Ivey did.

Ivey asked Cate what she wanted to be when she grows up, after she attends Auburn.

McGriff said that she wanted to be an engineer.

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Ivey advised her to keep working hard on her math.

Ivey shared that when she was a young intern for Governor Lurleen Wallace, the only other woman to serve as Governor in Alabama history, she had the opportunity to sit behind the governor’s desk. Ivey then asked Cate if she wanted to sit behind the desk, and they recreated the governor’s own photo behind Governor Wallace’s desk.

Cate and Governor Ivey both were wearing their red power suits and Auburn masks.

McGriff was joined by her parents and two siblings, Claire and Sam.

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The McGriff family frequently tune in to the governor’s regular COVID press conferences. Cate also was given the chance to stand behind the lectern in the Old House Chamber.

Governors frequently meet with very important people including: Presidents, CEOs, congressmen, Senators, scientists, University presidents, state legislators, county commissioners, economic developers, and fourth graders.

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Health

CDC issues Halloween guidance

Brandon Moseley

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Today is Halloween. Many people are celebrating this year’s holiday at home as a nuclear family due to the coronavirus global pandemic. If you are going to still trick or treat this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance on trick or treating.

“Traditional Halloween activities are fun, but some can increase the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or influenza,” the CDC warned. “Plan alternate ways to participate in Halloween.”

To make trick-or-treating safer: avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters, give out treats outdoors, if possible, set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take, wash your hands before handling treats, wear a mask or cloth face covering.

The CDC has also issued guidance on proper mask wearing. Make your cloth mask part of your costume. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult. Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of two or anyone who has trouble breathing.

Remember to always stay at least six feet away from others who do not live with you. Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.

Don’t let excitement about the holiday distract you from proper COVID-19 procedures. Wash your hands. Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Parents should supervise young children using hand sanitizer. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.

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Other suggestions for enjoying Halloween activities during the global COVID-19 pandemic include: decorating and carving pumpkins, decorate your home for Halloween, and you can walk from house to house, admiring Halloween decorations at a distance. You could also visit an orchard, forest, or corn maze. You can also go on an outdoor Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. Visit a pumpkin patch or orchard. Whatever you do or wherever you go be sure to remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently, especially after touching frequently touched surfaces, pumpkins, or apples.

The CDC also suggested that you can hide Halloween treats in and around your house and hold a Halloween treat hunt with household members. The CDC suggested that you can hold an outdoor costume parade or contest so everyone can show off their costumes. Another suggestion is that you host an outdoor Halloween movie night with friends or neighbors or an indoor movie night with just your household members.

 

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Elections

Etowah County Republicans rally for Trump

Brandon Moseley

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The Etowah County Republican Party and the Trump campaign will be holding a Celebrate America rally and prayer meeting on Sunday in anticipation of Tuesday’s general election.

“We the People plan to peacefully assemble at our town square Tomorrow, November 1st at 2:00 PM to rally around President Trump and pray for our nation, our first responders, and for our President,” organizers said.

Remarks will be made by special guest Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville.

Singer songwriters Camille and Haley will perform.

Pastors Mark Gidley, Joey Jones and Bruce Word will be speaking.

“Bring your friends and family as we pray, celebrate and rally for America!” organizers said. “Our outdoor program and rally will be an amazing hour that you will not want to miss! Please mark your calendars and please share.”

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Patriotic attire, American flags, and Trump flags are welcome. The event will be in the Rainbow City Town hall parking lot.

Robert Aderholt is in his twelfth term representing Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District. Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District is where Trump had his greatest margin of victory in the entire country in 2016.

President Trump and Congressman Aderholt both face Democratic challengers in Tuesday’s general election.

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News

Jones says Senate race a choice between “substance and leadership, and nothing”

“One of the great disappointments in this campaign is that Alabama is not really getting choices between substance and substance,” Jones said.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Incumbent Sen. Doug Jones speaks at a rally in Anniston. (EDDIE BURKHALTER/APR)

Speaking outside the Calhoun County Democratic Party headquarters in Anniston on Friday, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, told a group of supporters that Alabamians haven’t gotten a look at what his Republican opponent might do if he wins the Nov. 3 election. 

“One of the great disappointments in this campaign is that Alabama is not really getting choices between substance and substance,” Jones said. “They’re getting a choice between substance and leadership, and nothing — nothing. We have not heard anything from Tommy Tuberville about what he really wants to do.” 

While Jones has held numerous interviews with the media, and regular web briefings over the summer and in recent weeks, Tuberville’s campaign seems to prefer the safety of keeping Tuberville from making possible gaffs or damaging statements in interviews. 

Tuberville hasn’t agreed to interviews with traditional media outlets, or to debate Jones, and instead has focused on conservative talk radio spots, speaking to smaller Republican groups and at private parties.

Tuberville’s campaign has ignored or denied our numerous attempts to interview Tuberville, including another request on Friday. He also declined to attend a student forum held at Auburn University on Wednesday, which Jones attended. The forum was sponsored by the Auburn College Republicans and College Democrats.

“If you ever hear something Tommy Tuberville says, it is just simply this: ‘Build a wall. No amnesty. Drain the swamp.’ That ain’t him. That’s Donald Trump,” Jones said. “He cannot think for himself. He doesn’t think for himself.” 

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Jones spoke of his record of working to help veterans through legislation. And he referred to Tuberville’s nonprofit for veterans and reporting that indicates, through tax records, that less than a third of the money raised for Tuberville’s charity went to help veterans. 

“I don’t just create charities and send only pennies on the dollar. I do things for the veterans of this state and this country,” Jones said. 

Jones also made a case for Alabamians to remember the contributions past Democrats made in the state. Jones said it was Democratic Sen. John Sparkman who helped build Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal. 

“It was a Democrat, Lester Hill, who built the rural hospitals around here that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell and Tommy Tuberville are trying to destroy,” Jones said. “It was Howell Heflin who built up agriculture in this state. Those are the Democrats. It was Franklin Rosevelt that put electricity in this state. We’re going to do the same thing for broadband. People forget those things. They forget those things because we’ve let other people define us with lies.”

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Jones plans to visit Jefferson County on Saturday, then on to the Black Belt and Mobile on Sunday with another stop in Birmingham on Monday afternoon. 

“The goal is to get everybody out. That’s the thing if we want to continue to ensure Alabama moves forward — moves forward and not backwards, to continue to have somebody, if I do say so myself, somebody that’s just not going to damn embarrass us,” Jones said.

Supporters of Democratic Sen. Doug Jones rally in Anniston on Oct. 30, 2020. (EDDIE BURKHALTER/APR)

“We’ve had too much of that in Alabama,” Jones said, “and I bet you it won’t be a year that Tommy Tuberville would be an embarrassment to this state because he doesn’t know the issues. He doesn’t know what to do, and he’s dang sure not going to know what to do when Donald Trump is not president of the United States.” 

Jones encouraged supporters to be skeptical of recent polling. One such recent poll, by Auburn University at Montgomery, puts Tuberville ahead of Jones by 12 percentage points, 54 to 42.1. An internal poll by Tuberville’s campaign puts Tuberville ahead by 15 percentage points, while an internal poll from the Jones camp put Jones ahead by one percentage point. 

“Don’t listen to these polling folks that come in, and they don’t know Alabama, and they don’t know what they’re doing. We’re tracking this race, and I can tell you, everything has been moving in our direction the last two months,” Jones said. 

People standing along roadsides holding his signs and showing support, Jones said, is “the energy we’ve got out there. That’s what you can’t poll.”

Ellen Bass of Anniston, standing outside the Calhoun County Democratic Party headquarters just after Jones spoke, told APR that she has numerous Republican friends who are voting for Jones.

“My hat’s off to them because they’re coming out,” Bass said. “They recognize that he is a better candidate.”

Ciara Smith, 21, newly elected to the Anniston City Council, told APR outside the headquarters building that Jones is the better candidate.

“I think that he’s educated. I think that he speaks with passion and heart,” Smith said. “And he knows what he’s talking about, which is important, and which is more than we can say about the other candidate.”

Speaking to APR after his speech to supporters, Jones said that he feels very good about the state of his campaign.

“Everything we’re seeing is moving in our direction,” Jones said. “And the more he stays hidden, the better it is for us.”

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