State candidate Pate headlines Cullman GOP meeting; change of election results venue


Saturday morning’s featured speaker was Rick Pate, who is running for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries. / Nick Griffin

CULLMAN – It’s campaign season, which means the monthly Cullman County Republican Party breakfasts are even more popular than normal, and Saturday’s was no exception.  Judge Terri Willingham Thomas of the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals kicked things with a brief statement, followed by Michelle Thomason who is running for a seat on the Court of Civil Appeals. Cullman County Probate Judge Tammy Brown also made an announcement, saying that after receiving several requests, all 2018 election results will be counted and publicized at the Cullman Civic Center, instead of the Cullman County Courthouse.

Rich Anderson, candidate for Alabama’s Court of Criminal Appeals and Alabama Rep. Tim Wadsworth, R-Arley also spoke for a few moments in the lead-up to Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry taking the podium. Gentry is running unopposed for re-election.  

“Four years ago, when we ran for office we started with a mission and a vision, and our mission was to return the office of the sheriff back to the people, and that’s something that I believe in. We live in the greatest county in the state of Alabama, and it’s because of our citizens, but that mission has to be executed,” Gentry said. “We’ve done that through our citizen’s academy, through our firearms classes, we just finished conducting a relationship with 51 churches in our community to teach them how to make a safety plan for their church. We’ve taken over 500 people to the range, we are on our sixth citizen’s academy class and there’s no greater tool than law enforcement joining with the community, so you can show them what law enforcement is about, who we are, what we deal with day in, day out.”

Gentry also touched on how Cullman’s growth will affect his department and how they’re planning ahead.

“Most people don’t know, but we’re projected to grow 15-20 percent by 2025. In law enforcement we have to prepare for that growth because when we grow there’s economic stability, but there’s also criminals that will come into the community, and that is a top priority for us in enforcing the law,” Gentry said. “We have started our very first (Sheriff's Youth Leadership Academy) for the sheriff’s office. We take young leaders because guess what, our children are our most valuable resource. They are going to be the next leaders in our community, they’re going to be the next people sitting in this room. We’ve graduated two classes and every class has grown over 50 percent. It is amazing to see these young leaders.”

Saturday morning’s featured speaker was Rick Pate, who is running for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries. Pate has been the mayor of Lowndesboro, Alabama since 1997 and is the owner and operator of Pate Landscape. He is the vice chairman of the Lowndes County Republican Party and serves on the ALGOP executive committee. Pate is involved with several organizations such as Rotary International, Associated General Contractors, Alabama Agribusiness Council, Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association and Alabama Wildlife Federation. He is a member of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council of Alabama, and United Way of the River Region.

Pate used his time at the podium to make his case to Cullman’s Republican voters but also acknowledged the quality of the people he has been sharing the campaign trail with.

“These are really good people running for office, I’ve gotten to know Terri and Michelle and Rich, but I haven’t really met a person as we travel these same paths that I don’t respect. Now I don’t know what happens to them when they get elected, but as candidates they’re awfully nice people and they’re working awful hard and I don’t think you can go wrong with almost any of them,” Pate joked.

“I’m the mayor of a little town, I don’t know if you have towns that are incorporated that are smaller than 107 (people), but I will brag on it. We’ve got a water system that has twice been voted the second-best tasting water in the state of Alabama. We’ve got a cash reserve of about $1.2 million, that works to more than $11,150 per citizen of the town, and you take our water system and our assets we probably carry about $40,000 in assets per citizen which tripled any other town in the state of Alabama,” said Pate. “I tell my town council we operate under two rules. The first rule is you don’t have to agree with me to be my friend and the second rule is that you don’t have to be disagreeable to disagree. We don’t vote unanimously on everything and we don’t agree on everything, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a voice raised or anything said bitter, and when you come at it with the assumption that people are well-intentioned, you can get a lot accomplished.”

The Cullman County Republican Party will hold its next meeting on April 7. Breakfast will be served at 7:30 before the meeting begins at 8. The guest speakers for next month’s event will be Alabama Attorney General candidate Troy King and Alabama State Treasurer candidate John McMillan.

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