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Opinion | Alabama’s battle for the boards

Citizens must continue to show that this overreach is unacceptable if we want to ensure the safety of our nonpartisan spaces.

Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Josephine, discusses his bill to remove local library board members before the House County and Municipal Government Committee. Jacob Holmes/APR
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What do you get the Republican supermajority that has everything?

Apparently, you give them control of boards that have historically been apolitical.

With Republicans already controlling a supermajority in the Legislature, and dominating the executive and judicial branches, some in the Republican Party seem to see board control as the next frontier.

Last week saw two bills from State Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Jospehine, attempting to let state government take control of the board of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and giving local governments control of library boards.

The key thread is that both of these bills set up service at a political whim, something we have already seen go astray with Gov. Kay Ivey flexing her muscle to remove a critical board member from the Alabama Public Library Service.

Which, by the way, neither we nor ADAH Director Steve Murray have been able to find any authority for in any code. 

I haven’t been able to find a poll to prove that most people hate politics—maybe that is just a given. Just look at voter turnout during any given election, especially when there’s not a Presidential race on the ballot.

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But certain members of the party, not all, seem to be keen to expand their political power into the most otherwise mundane and previously noncontroversial government agencies.

And with the influence of Moms for Liberty/Clean Up Alabama apparently growing, it seems the fight could very well extend soon to state and local school boards as well.

I understand why the party wants to do this, but are we really ready to surrender more territory to political machinations? Will we one day miss the days where we looked to our qualified neighbors we could trust to serve the schools well? Or to the time when councils could appoint sound, reasonable individuals to oversee libraries?

Thankfully, both of Elliott’s bills have been drastically undercut with requirements for board members to be removed only for cause, protecting board members from being chilled on what history programs or library materials are acceptable under threat of removal by whatever political party is in charge.

A few level-headed Republicans crossed the aisle and helped to keep these bills at bay for now, and hopefully this power grab ends here.

But the citizens must continue to show that this overreach is unacceptable if we want to ensure the safety of our nonpartisan spaces.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

More from APR


A bill to restructure the board of the Alabama Department of Archives and History is moving toward a vote on the House floor.


The committee did not hold a vote on the bill Wednesday and is expected to make a decision next week.


Sen. Chris Elliott’s comments were a disgusting reduction of LGBTQ people to sexual activity.


Sen. Chris Elliott filed the bill after the department hosted a one-hour talk on the history of LGBTQ+ individuals.