Sen. Gerald Dial speaks at the Cullman County Republican Women meeting this week. Dial is facing Rick Pate in the July 17 runoff for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries. (Heather Mann for The Tribune)
CULLMAN – Attendees of this month’s meeting of the Cullman County Republican Women (CCRW) heard campaign speeches from three candidates who will be on the July 17 run-off ballot. Rick Pate and Gerald Dial will face off in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, while Michelle Thomason will be up against Christy Edwards (not present) for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Judge, Place 1.
Other guests, welcomed by CCRW President Jacqueline Schendel, included Circuit Judges Greg Nicholas and Martha Williams, Senator-Elect Garlan Gudger, Alabama Lt. Gov. candidate Will Ainsworth, Circuit Clerk Lisa McSwain and economic developer Nicole Jones, who spoke on behalf of Gov. Kay Ivey.
In new business, CCRW members voted on a charity to support for the rest of the year. Winning out over Restoring Women Outreach was Cullman Caring for Kids United Way food bank, which serves an average of 550 Cullman County families per month and will now receive monthly donations of either money or helpful goods (detergent, paper towels, tissues, etc.).
Schendel also announced that Cullman’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post will be holding a Swamp John's fundraiser for flags to be displayed for major national holidays. Tickets are $11, and the choices are fried fish, fried shrimp, and fried chicken. The dinner will be held in the VFW on Monday, June 18, from 4-7 p.m.
Another fundraiser to look forward to is the CCRW's sale of Boston butts. The butts will be smoked by Freddie Day Catering, and all orders must be paid for by Monday, July 23. Tickets for each butt are $30, and customers must present their ticket stubs upon pickup on Saturday, Aug. 4, at Freddie Day Catering (1628 Second Ave. NW, Cullman, open from 9 a.m.-noon). Since this is the organization's major fundraiser for the year, the member who sells the most tickets will receive a $50 reward.
In old business, Schendel was pleased to announce that the Republican dinner and auction was a success and earned around $9,300.
In his remarks, Dial, who serves District 13 in the Alabama Senate, said that despite being a $70 billion industry and one of the largest industries in Alabama, agriculture's importance is often overlooked and taken for granted. The offices involving agriculture don't just relate to growing food, but also ensuring product quality, proper consumer portions, and research of crop diseases. He also stated that Alabama can promote agriculture without having to put money into the industry by increasing irrigation and exports. Alabama has 100,000 acres of irrigation, compared to Georgia's 500,000 acres, and Dial said he aims to increase that amount by 100,000 acres per year until Alabama catches up to Georgia.
"When you irrigate your crops, you can triple production," he said, and mentioned that the state legislature has set aside $10 million for small farms to apply for an irrigation subsidy. He believes the increased production from irrigation will lead to increased exportation of crops, fulfilling the second half of his goal to promote agriculture. He also discussed the importance of bringing broadband to rural communities and stated that the legislature recently passed a bill that would give tax breaks to companies who would expand broadband to rural communities. Read more at www.itsdialtime.com.
Pate, mayor of the town of Lowndesboro, president of Pate Landscape Co., Inc. and owner of Pate Charolais Ranch said he is running because he aims to foster a better business environment for agriculture and forestry, which are some of the largest employers in the state. He said he believes that the solutions for Alabama's future don't come from Washington, D.C., and not even Montgomery; they come from the people themselves. According to his website (www.rickpate.com/meet_rick), "As a businessman, Rick wants to remove impediments like over-regulation, high taxes and barriers to investment."
Thomason currently serves as the District Judge for Baldwin County. One of the biggest talking points of her speech was her experience in family court; she stated that 19 out of 22 opinions recently handed down by the Court of Civil Appeals dealt with family court. She also stated that, along with being the only person in the Civil Appeals race who has any experience with family court (and she will be the only person on the Court as a whole with that experience if elected, she said), she has also received more than 700 hours of continuing education since taking the bench. Thomason founded the Baldwin County Veterans Court in 2014 and has been working with local judges to establish a Veterans Court in Cullman County as well. Thomason’s long-term goal when it comes to Veterans Courts is to have a court accessible to everyone all across the state. For more, see www.judgethomasonforalabama.com.
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