The next governor will help the people of Alabama prosper on hundreds of fronts, but I’ll say this, the primary priorities of the next administration must be character, a high standard of ethics, and good leadership. How can we expect anything to prosper throughout the state if good and effective leadership is not modeled from the top down? My administration will humbly seek to move Alabama forward with leadership that is defined by integrity, service, and character. I will work to ensure that our laws for elected officials foster that same spirit in all branches of government.
Are We Building Trust?
As an elected official, this question should be a standard by which every action is determined. Alabamians have lost trust in our government and we know why: we have an old, run-of-the-mill system with corrupt individuals who play it for their personal benefit. We talk about the economic “one percenters,” but we've allowed politicians to create an elite status and privileged class for themselves. I will enact reforms to ensure that public service doesn't become personal service that betrays voters.
Career politicians pollute the hallways of Montgomery and it should not be that way. In the comfy confines of the status quo, those who sit and tell you that something new and innovative “won't work” far outnumber those who are ready to try something different. No more! I’m proposing term limits for the state legislature, like we do for our statewide executive offices and our elected judges. Let’s face it, after a period of at least eight years, a legislator has had ample time to accomplish his or her goals. Any more time than that, he/she has likely grown comfortable in the political system, or burned out trying to reform that system. Whatever the case, all three situations mean one thing: it’s time to go home! Public service ought to be, well, public service—never a career.
The Reagan Revamp
Before Ronald Reagan was president, he was the Governor of California and one of the first things that he did was to enlist top businessmen and women to analyze every state program and agency—from the governor’s office to the smallest commission. They analyzed the performance, the services, the cost, the employment, the waste, and asked: Should this program be continued, merged to another, should it receive less funding, more funding, or be terminated?
I propose a similar revamp for Alabama. In looking through our budget line items, I see dozens of agencies and commissions and I am certain that while all of them likely do some good work, they have not received the scrutiny that any work funded by hard-working taxpayers deserves.
No Mo Money
The history of Alabama is littered with stories about former politicians who became millionaires. Nothing is more sickening than watching a person, who took the trust of the public to serve in office, line his or her pockets with a glorified lobbying career. What favors were traded? How many votes were given knowing that future relationships would be helpful? No more!
Today, a retired elected official can register the next day as a highly paid lobbyist to everyone except the body in which that official formerly served---for that, he or she would have to wait just two years. We call this quick turnaround a revolving door and it is key to perpetuating the good ol’ boy system that makes government more about gaining political friends for profit and power than it does about serving the people. I will propose legislation banning former elected officials from registering to lobby the legislature for ten years following their tenure as a public servant.
Promises Made, Promises Kept
The next time an elected official runs on a platform, only to ditch campaign promises and betray voters, we need the ability to hold that official accountable. The next time a governor closes the office door and abuses his power and our trust, we shouldn’t have to wait on the Attorney General or the Alabama Legislature to act. The people of Alabama, just like the people of nineteen other states, need the ability to recall that official to stand before the voters and be held accountable.
I will propose a recall provision that gives the people this ability while requiring a high threshold to both initiate the process and have the official recalled. Having a recall option doesn't guarantee that an elected official will even stand for a recall election, much less that they would be removed, but can you imagine the difference in leadership and honesty that will come with just the threat of recall? Now more than ever, the carrot of re-election doesn't seem to work as well as it once did. Alabama needs a stick to ensure that promises made are, in fact, promises kept.