Many House contemporaries are good friends, guys
One of my most cherished lifetime memories is the almost two decades I served in the Alabama House of Representatives. It was because of the lifetime friends made during that era.
The House was not as partisan as it is today. This day and time it seems like legislators do not mix and mingle with different party members. They get in their caucuses and stay put. When I was in the House, although we were of different parties, we all got along regardless of whether we disagreed on issues.
My seatmates were my best friends and still remain my buddies. Seth Hammett, Jimmy Holley and Mr. Pete Turnham were great friends. We represented similar districts and we all voted pretty much alike.
It is a fun and exhilarating experience now to visit the House and see old buddies and meet the new members. My most treasured friend in the House now is Steve Clouse from Ozark. We have been lifelong friends. In fact, I have never not known Steve. His mom and mine were best friends growing up together in Troy. We used to play together as boys; although Steve is quick to point out that I am four years older than him. I am not sure our mothers did not get together and name their children the same names. Ironically, I had a sister named Kay and Steve has a sister named Kay. We represented adjoining districts within Pike and Dale Counties. People would get us confused and still do because our names are so similar.
Clouse has done a stellar job in the House. He has represented Dale and Houston Counties with distinction for the past 26 years. He is Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and has done a yeoman’s job. Even though I am a little prejudiced, I believe that Clouse is the most outstanding, diligent and ethical member of the House. He leads an excellent Wiregrass delegation comprised of Paul Lee of Dothan, Donnie Chesteen of Geneva, and Dexter Grimsley of Henry County.
Victor Gaston of Mobile came to the House with me in 1982. Therefore, he has now been in the House for 34 years. Victor serves as Speaker Pro Tem and has moved up to Speaker after the conviction of Mike Hubbard. Gaston has mentored a good many young legislators.
Richard Lindsey from Cherokee County also came with me to the legislature in 1982. He is a good man and a real gentleman who always greets you with a smile.
John Rogers is also one of my buddies from the class of 1982. He has made his mark for 34 years. He is always quick with a smile and handshake. In fact, when I was in the House, I started an informal fraternity that was nonpartisan. John always remembers and gives me the fraternal handshake.
Alvin Holmes from Montgomery is the dean of the House with 42 years of seniority. Alvin has made his mark on Alabama political history.
There are two members remaining in the House who came in 1978, thus giving them 38 years of service. Ron Johnson from Talladega County has made a mark as a health specialist in the legislature. James Buskey of Mobile has been a real leader. He is very well-respected and one of the men I revere in the legislature. He is diligent, calm and humorous. Some of us refer to him as “Admiral.”
Steve McMillan from Baldwin County is one of my all-time favorite legislators. He has represented his county for the past 36 years. Baldwin has changed and grown exponentially during the past four decades McMillan has represented them. McMillan’s brother, John McMillan, is the agriculture commissioner. Both are known for their integrity and class.
Mike Hill is another one of my favorites. He has represented Shelby County for 30 years. He, like Steve, represents one of Alabama’s fastest growing and now largest counties. Like McMillan in Baldwin, Hill is a native Shelby Countian. He is always positive and upbeat.
There are several more old friends I served with who are still in the House, Howard Sanderford from Huntsville, Thomas Jackson from Thomasville, Laura Hall from Huntsville, Johnny Mack Morrow from Red Bay, Kerry Rich from Marshall, Jim Carns from Jefferson, John Knight from Montgomery, George Bandy from Opelika, Thad McClammy from Montgomery and Chris Pringle from Mobile.
One of my all-time favorites is Marcel Black from Tuscumbia. He has now been in the House for 30 years. We are almost exactly the same age. We went to Boys State together. He has been an outstanding legislator and has made his mark on Alabama politics. He is also a heck of a good lawyer and a good friend.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.