After 14 years of service to the City of Cullman, Garlan Gudger is preparing to take the skills that made him successful at home to the often contentious halls of state government.
As a state senator, representing District 4, Gudger will no doubt face the challenges that have kept Alabama on a political roller coaster for many years.
The scandalous end of Gov. Robert Bentley, the indictment and conviction of House Speaker Mike Hubbard and others, and the odd departure to Washington by Attorney General Luther Strange, via the U.S. Senate appointment from the governor he was investigating, are just a few of the events that have eroded public confidence and diluted the ability of state government to move Alabama forward.
Gudger, however, prepares to arrive in Montgomery in early 2019 with a reputation of being willing to sit down and talk with the people he serves as well as those he governed alongside in Cullman. For 10 of the 14 years on the Cullman City Council, he was designated president and provided valuable leadership through a few difficult years and a lot of progressive years of growth.
The key in Cullman’s leadership in recent years has been the ability of council members and mayors to agree and disagree, but find common ground for the good of the residents they serve. That type of statesmanship, which serves well at any level of government, is often non-existent in Montgomery and Washington, D.C.
So, there is the challenge going forward. Gudger has shown the ability to reach out to others to find solutions and move forward.
Alabama has multiple pending issues that are continually pushed from one session to the next. How can the state improve workforce availability and training? What is the answer to dangerously overcrowded prisons? Why are the people not allowed to vote on something as simple as a lottery? Can internet service be brought to areas that are far behind in technology? How can schools become more consistent and effective across the state? Can the rigid funding formulas maintained in Alabama be untangled to better fund services? Will infrastructure improvements be funded?
Lower unemployment is Alabama’s shining characteristic at the moment. But all of the aforementioned questions weigh into the long-term viability of the state. Improved roads, better education, increased revenue and greater technology will create great opportunities.
Bringing Alabama to a higher performance level is not the job of one person. This should be a team effort of the Legislature working with the governor, even when there are disagreements. We are confident Reps. Randall Shedd and Corey Harbison will work closely with Gudger as he begins his tenure in Montgomery.
While Gudger’s presence and performance will be missed at the local level, we anticipate he will bring his endless spirit of cooperation and leadership to the Alabama Senate. Good luck, Garlan.