By Chad Fell
HALEYVILLE - Issues of interest to the area and state will be topics for discussion at the annual Legislative Meet and Greet Thursday, Jan. 17, allowing the public to get to know Winston County’s legislators, including three newly elected to office this past year.
Sponsored by the Haleyville Civitan Club, the annual legislative delegation meeting, held at the Haleyville Middle School cafeteria, allows the public, as well as state, local, and even federal officials a chance to discuss issues with legislators and plan future events of public interest related to the betterment of their communities.
This year’s meeting will begin at 6 p.m. with a public meet and greet, followed by the actual event at 6:30 p.m., when Representative Tim Wadsworth and Greg Reed will join newly elected legislators Representatives Tracy Estes and Proncey Robertson and Senator Garlan Gudger.
Paul Bussman lost his seat as senator in the June 5, primary election to Gudger, a Cullman City Council member making his first run for state office. The primary election also saw a race to replace long-time Representative Mike Millican, who retired after serving decades in the House District 17 seat. Estes and Phil Segraves were the top vote getters in the June primary election, edging out third opponent David Hall to move on to the July 17, runoff, which Estes won.
The format of the meeting will be questions of local and state interest presented to each of the legislators by Civitan Jeff Mobley, who annually serves as moderator for the event.
“We are honored to fulfill our mission as Civitans to each year bring an opportunity to meet with our legislators,” Mobley said.
“They are interested in hearing your issues as they carry our voice to Montgomery for the upcoming legislative session,” Mobley added. “This is a really good group. With three new members of our legislative delegation, it’s that much more important they have a chance to visit with you.”
Haleyville Mayor Ken Sunseri is pleased Haleyville will once again be hosting the legislative delegation for a public meeting.
“We are pleased to meet our legislative delegation to discuss ways to improve our community and state,” Sunseri pointed out.
Winston County Commission Chairman Roger Hayes noted that the Alabama Association of County Commissions encourages attendance at events such as this.
“It helps (our legislators) know who we are, where we are and what we are about,” said Hayes. “It’s great for all of us.”
Hayes says he contacts his local legislators almost daily about bills and other topics of interest to the county and state.
Hayes plans to address such issues as the gasoline tax, which has not been increased since 1992, he said, noting that gasoline taxes are used to help fund road and bridge improvements and projects.
“Vehicles get better gas mileage, so the tax has gone down,” Hayes said. “Our concern is every county has road issues, every county has bridge issues.”
Since the amount of tax collected has decreased, counties are having difficulty keeping up roads and bridges, said Hayes.
Legislators, both incumbents and those newly elected to office, expressed they are excited about meeting the public and talking about issues during the meet and greet.
“I am looking forward to another opportunity to visit with those who live in Haleyville and House District 17,” Estes said.
“I especially enjoy another visit to our schools in Haleyville, as I have always found the faculty, staff and students to be very welcoming.
“I have made a concerted effort over the past year to visit the campuses in Haleyville numerous times. Events such as these allow our citizens to meet those in elected office and share their ideas and concerns.
“The meetings allow those in office to hear first hand what local residents are expecting from those who represent them in Montgomery,” Estes continued.
Gudger stated, “It is always a pleasure to be able to meet and listen to the people who I serve in the statehouse. I look forward to the opportunity.”
See complete story in the Journal Record.