My notebook of observations from 2023 was so full that I will continue this week.
Our new United States Senator, Katie Boyd Britt, has proven to all of us that she is indeed the superstar we predicted she would be. She is sensational. She has certainly not disappointed. She is on course to be one of Alabama’s greatest senators in history if she does not become President first.
During 2023, I had the opportunity to speak to a leadership group from the University of South Alabama during their visit to the Capitol. I visit with them every year. They have an outstanding Governmental Affairs Director, Nick Lawkis. Included in the group, was a young lady from Enterprise named Camille Bonura, who was SGA President at USA in 2022. She is currently in graduate school at USA and serving as a graduate assistant for USA President Jo Bonner. Camille reminds me so much of another young lady I met from Enterprise 20 years ago named Katie Boyd. In fact, she is almost a Katie Boyd clone. Both are brilliant and from Enterprise. Their families are close. Katie Boyd Britt even babysat Camille and was one of her dance instructors.
Speaking of young promising people, 26 year old Hoover/Vestavia lawyer Derek Chen is the most politically connected person I have ever encountered at such a young age. He is friends with almost every legislator and lobbyist in the state.
One of the most brilliant and promising young leaders in the state is Senator Tommy Tuberville’s assistant, Emory Cox. Young Mr. Cox is a 28-year-old native of Pell City. He is a graduate of Washington & Lee University. Emory is Senator Tuberville’s senior economic advisor. Before his current role with Tuberville, he was an associate director of the White House National Economic Council under Larry Kudlow at the Trump White House for three years.
Governor Ivey did a good day’s work when she garnered veteran Tuscaloosa legislative leader Bill Poole to be Finance Director. Bill Poole wrote the state education budget for a decade as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Education Budget Committee. He quietly sits back in a large private office in the Capitol suite adjoining the Governor’s office and writes the state’s budget. Although he was in public office for decades, he seeks anonymity and does not like the spotlight or fanfare. He is still young. You may not have heard the last of Bill Poole politically.
The brightest star in the University President’s category is by far Jacksonville State University President Dr. Don Killingsworth. Jax State longtime board leaders are so proud to have Dr. Killingsworth they could burst a button. You should hear Chairman Randy Jones and JSU lawyer and state political veteran Charlie Waldrep brag about Don Killingsworth. Don was Jax State’s lobbyist for over a decade. He became acting President in October of 2019, and full President in 2020. Under his leadership they have over $200 million in infrastructure improvements on campus in the works. Jacksonville also has a very good and nationally acclaimed football coach in Rich Rodriquez. They are having fantastic run under his tutelage.
Calhoun County has a very promising and personable County Commissioner named Lee Patterson. He represents the Jacksonville area of Calhoun County. He and his wife Susan are Calhoun County natives and live two miles north of Jacksonville on a family farm. Lee is Present-Elect of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama. He will take over as President of ACCA in August of 2024. He will be following Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight.
The next Probate Judge of Lee County will be an outstanding young man named Jere Colley, Jr. Jere is a practicing attorney in Opelika. Lee County is a Republican bailiwick. Young Jere Colley won the Republican nomination unopposed. This is a testament of the respect and popularity for Jere and his family. He will be following the popular 18-year veteran Republican Probate Judge Bill English.
I have known young Jere Colley all of his life. His mama and daddy, Dr. Jere and Judy Colley, are my lifetime friends. We grew up together in Troy. My good friend, Jere Sr., is a revered, retired veterinarian in Opelika.
Veteran Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle will coast to reelection for his fourth, 4-year term as Mayor of Alabama’s most prosperous and largest city this year. Tommy Battle has overseen and been the major integral ingredient of the amazing story of Huntsville, Alabama.
2024 will be a fun political year. Our presidential party primaries are right around the corner – March 5 to be exact.
See you next week.