Lt. Gov. candidate Cooke visits Chilton County

Published 3:54 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stan Cooke, a Republican candidate for Alabama Lt. Governor, visited Chilton County last week to rally support from local religious leaders, he said.

Cooke said a focus of his campaign will be to reach out to people of all Christian faiths, the Tea Party, and conservative Republicans and Democrats.

Cooke ran against U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus in 2010. After considering that seat, Cooke decided to focus on the state level. He announced his candidacy on Aug. 20.

Cooke said current Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey has mismanaged the state Senate.

“After three years, she still does not know how to run the Senate,” Cooke said. “We figured the Senate needed a strong, conservative leader with integrity.”

Cooke said he would be in favor of some version of “home rule,” a policy that could allow local governments, such as the Chilton County Commission, to decide on their own funding.

Currently, many decisions that affect only one county have to be passed by the full state Legislature.

The inability to pass a tax increase has been pointed to by the Chilton County Commission as a reason government services in the county haven’t improved.

“Common sense has to prevail,” Cooke said. “I do believe people don’t mind taxes when they’re seeing the services. I think every county in this state deserves home rule.”

One of Cooke’s top priorities would be to revisit the Alabama Accountability Act.

“The spirit of the law is good, but I’m not so sure about the letter of the law,” Cooke said. “You do not pass an education law without inviting education leaders to discuss it.”

Cooke said the policy of allowing students to leave failing schools doesn’t address why the school is failing in the first place.

Cooke said he would propose an “educational summit” with stakeholders from across the state to discuss education issues.

“I think we have to revisit this law,” he said.

Cooke said he would also focus on economic development. Specifically, Cooke said that while some areas of the state have undergone development, others—such as metro Birmingham and the Gadsden/Anniston areas–have lost jobs.

“We’re doing a good job, but there are areas of the state that are being neglected,” he said.

Another priority mentioned by Cooke was funding of the judicial branch of government. Cooke said that while the state’s executive branch of government has seen a $500 million funding increase over the last 10 years, the judicial branch’s funding has dropped about $30 million.

“The court system is bogged down,” Cooke said. “They can’t operate like they need to operate. We are violating our Constitution the way we’re funding the judicial branch.”

Cooke, 53, is a native of Jasper. He holds degrees from the University of Alabama, Lee University, the Institute of Jewish-Christian Studies and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.