Monday, January 31, 2011

Alabama governor crosses political lines to form rural development office

In an extreme example of crossing political lines, Alabama's new Republican governor has hired his former Democratic challenger to head a new office designed to improve economic conditions in the state's rural areas. Republican Gov. Robert Bentley announced last week he had appointed Democrat Ron Sparks to head the newly created Ala­bama Rural Development Of­fice, Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen of The Montgomery Advertiser report. "During the campaign, I got to know Commissioner Sparks well and the one issue we could always agree upon is the need to improve the lives of those who live in our rural communities," Bentley said. "This is an example of how we can put politics aside and work together for the common good of all Alabami­ans. I appreciate his willing­ness to serve."

"Sparks had been with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries since he was appointed as­sistant commissioner in 1999," Ricks and Kitchen write. In 2002, Sparks was elected commissioner of the department and was re-elected in 2006. Sparks was soundly defeated by Bently in the November gubernatorial election, and the two "edu­cation, federal health care re­form and gaming, but appear to have put aside those differ­ences to work together on ru­ral issues," Ricks writes. (Read more)

At least one rural Alabama newspaper has given Bently major credit for his bipartisan move. "Alabama’s new Republican governor has just hired his Democratic election opponent to lead the state’s efforts to improve conditions in rural areas," The Daily Home of Talladega and St. Clair counties writes in an editorial. "He could not have found a better man for the job. The newspaper concludes, "It is an unprecedented but very welcome political move on Bentley’s part. 'This is an example of how we can put politics aside and work together for the common good of all Alabamians,' he said. We heartily concur." (Read more)

No comments: