Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan made campaign stop in Cullman Thursday. McMillan is running for state treasurer. / W.C. Mann
CULLMAN – On Thursday morning, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan stopped by Peoples Bank in Cullman, not as commissioner but as a candidate. He is concluding his second term and is seeking the office of state treasurer, the position currently occupied by McMillan’s personal friend, Young Boozer.
“We’re both serving the last year of our two-(term) limit, which all the constitutional offices of Alabama have. So I had looked at what my future might hold. Young and several other close friends in the state government came to me and asked me if I would consider this,” said McMillan, “and my initial reaction was not a lot of interest. But Young and I have been friends–same Rotary Club and all that–for many years, but I did continue to talk to him and visit with him, and over a fairly short period of time found that I did have enough interest in it to pursue it. So, basically, that’s it.”
Said McMillan, “I understand, from the position I’m in now, number one: how important these down ballot positions are, and secondly: how few of our citizens understand the importance to consumers and everybody else that both of these positions–ag and the treasurer’s office–have.”
McMillan grew up in Stockton, in Baldwin County, working on a family-run farm and sawmill. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Rhodes College. He served on the Baldwin County Commission and two terms as a state representative. He has been commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, and he spent 14 years on the state personnel board. McMillan has served as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries since 2010.
What will be the major issue or issues for the office of the treasurer in the next term?
McMillan replied, “Young and I have both agreed that there are a couple of programs, for example: the old PAC college savings plan is frozen, but he has started the 529 college savings plan, and then there’s another plan that’s called EnABLE that the Legislature just passed in 2012; that is a program set up for tax-free contributions for the long-term care or benefit of special needs folks with disabilities and that sort of thing.
“We both agree that both the 529 and the ABLE program–EnABLE is official, but ABLE is what it’s referred to (www.enableal.com)–both need more promotion. I have a special needs son myself, my wife and I, that’s still with us, and we weren’t even familiar with that program, for example. So, I think the promotion of those two programs.
“And then, depending on the general economy and what the Legislature decides to do with funding issues, one of the things that I’m very much interested in: I was instrumental in the oil and gas lease program that enabled us to have the Alabama Trust Fund for oil and gas proceeds, when I was commissioner of conservation. And those revenues are declining, so it’s going to be important, I think, particularly to have an interest in protecting and preserving that fund. And it’s gone from in excess of $150 million a year down now to somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million a year, and that’s going to continue to decline as those wells are depleted. I think that’s an important thing that I have a lot of personal interest in.
“Those will probably be the main things, because so much of the rest of it depends on interest rates and the economy generally and nationally, and all of those kinds of things. A lot of that involves and requires decisions that move along through time.”
McMillan has been a part of Alabama’s government since his election to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1974, holding numerous elected and appointed positions over the years, and he feels that his career and record make him a suitable candidate for one more office.
Said McMillan, “I have had a lot of experience in state government, and (I’ve) been very successful, for example, in working with the legislature and fixing a lot of problems at the Department of Agriculture and Industries. So I’m up to those challenges.
“I feel like I’ve been blessed to have had these opportunities, and for this position I’ve got the skills, knowledge and experience to do a good job. And nobody’ll work harder than I will. I pride myself on being the one that makes coffee everywhere I’ve ever been.”
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