We have reached out to every State House of Representative member and asked them questions about the upcoming legislative session that starts next month. As we receive their responses we will get them up so that the citizens will have an opportunity to read and consider what they have to say.
The questions we asked included seeking their top priorities for their districts in the session as well as where they stand on issues that should be hotly debated on Goat Hill this year. State Rep. Mike Ball was the first to respond and wrote his responses in well written free form so we are publishing them as they were written to give them the best possible context.
“I represent House District 10, which is comprised of the Redstone Arsenal and surrounding areas that include part of Huntsville, most of Madison, and all Triana. The first adjectives that usually cross my mind when attempting describe this district are “robust” and “diverse”. However, even those words seem inadequate to describe the level and variety of activity and resulting growth that we are experiencing.
I recognize the level of success in this district is no accident. It is not the result of the will or vision of any one person, especially mine. Our success is the fruit of many decades of shared vision and combined will of creative and collaborative leadership. This leadership style has been evident in various public officials at all levels of government representing our area, in conjunction with multiple elements of a similarly visionary private sector. It has been an honor for me to have had the opportunity to be a small part in this collective vision since my election to the legislature in 2002.
My top priority for the upcoming legislative session will remain as it has been throughout my public service. I will continue be to promote collaborative leadership, focused on seeking innovative policies that encourage local solutions to societal problems as much as possible. As far as local legislation is concerned, I have no personal agenda apart from that of our local legislative delegation and local leadership. We will continue to help one another promote legislation and policies that promote a robust economy and the best possible quality of life for our constituents.
When this type of leadership is consistently and persistently applied, prosperity naturally gravitates toward it. Unfortunately, this collaborative visionary style of leadership that seems to flourish in the Huntsville area has not been traditionally dominant throughout the much of Alabama, and the legislature is usually a microcosm of the rest of the state. It does seem, however, that we have begun to enter an era that might be a departure from the old fear-based antagonistic leadership style.
Many Alabamians have traditionally responded to egotistical leaders who have been effective in presenting themselves as champions of the people by stoking the fear of whatever constituency they are using as their power base. This type of leadership requires a scapegoat or a villain as the focus of fear and/or contempt to rally support. Its creativity seems to focus more on feeding egos and forcefully imposing public policy rather than less divisive but more complex process of building consensus toward implementing positive solutions.
As the Alabama Legislature approaches the first session of a fresh decade, we have many difficult issues before us, including prisons, gaming, healthcare, mental health treatment, economic development, and improving education. The fear-based adversarial style of leadership that has been pervasive in our Alabama political system for so long had caused us to expend a disproportionate amount of our creativity and energy toward confronting one another instead of these issues that continue to plague us. So, they remain unresolved.
I am convinced that much of the tragic leadership failure in Alabama at the highest echelon of state government during the previous quadrennium was a culmination of many generations of political leadership marked by a pattern of fear-based scapegoating. I am cautiously optimistic that we may have turned a corner in Alabama. We seem to be gradually shifting from that old-style adversarial leadership model toward a more conciliatory leadership model promoting collective creativity that has proven successful in the Huntsville region. I wish it could happen quicker, but we are stubborn and old habits die hard.
In furtherance of what I hope is a major departure from our historical leadership style, I don’t plan to concentrate on many policy specifics this session, I plan to concentrate much of my effort this session on promoting collaboration and thoughtful policy innovation among my colleagues. However, there is one issue that seems to have fallen into my lap about which I feel compelled to play a leading role. That issue is ethics.
I am presently working on an Ethics bill that will attempt to address many of the problems that came to my attention during the previous quadrennium. The changes that I plan to propose are intended to bring clarity and to promote confidence in our political process. Clarity and confidence work in the conjunction and are necessary ingredients of our political system if we are are to continue migrating from the fear-based divisive leadership style of our past toward the collaborative, innovative leadership style that attracts the success and prosperity that most Alabamians desire.
I expect it to be ready before the legislative begins and plan to introduce it early in the session. I hope that as this bill wends its way through the legislative process, more Alabamians will recognize the factors that led to the ethical breakdowns of the previous quadrennium and we can pass a bill that will ensure that we never fall into such a mire again.”