Inside Alabama Politics – July 29, 2020

Inside Alabama Politics – July 29, 2020

The way of the mask

It has been almost two weeks since Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide order mandating face coverings be worn in public places with more than 10 people present. That order expires Friday, unless the governor opts to extend it.

The mask mandate did not come without controversy. Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth was quick to criticize the order as a government overreach where personal responsibility should take precedence, and a handful of state lawmakers have complained as well. One mustn’t scroll down far on Facebook to see folks criticizing the mask order, or worse, calling it part of a conspiracy meant to keep people under the government’s thumb.

And yet, as of this writing, the state is just starting to see the first tangible results of stricter mask rules, both local and statewide. Ten days ago, just as the mask order was going into effect, Alabama was seeing an average of 1,840 new COVID-19 cases daily. That average has dropped by more than 200 to 1,604 as of Tuesday. The average number of daily hospitalizations peaked at 204 on July 20 and now has dropped to 164. Total confirmed hospitalizations, which rose precipitously in July, have also leveled off in the last five days.

Still, ADPH says it is too soon to glean a full understanding of the health data.

“The impact cannot be adequately measured yet due to persons already incubating virus when the order was put in place, but may be able to begin to reduce viral spread by asymptomatic or presymptomatic persons,” said Dr. Karen Landers of ADPH. “Mask mandates remain the consensus best advice of medical professionals and public health officials, along with social distancing and good respiratory hygiene, including good hand washing and hand sanitizing…”

Sources close to the situation inform Inside Alabama Politics that Ivey will extend the public health order requiring masks by Wednesday afternoon. How long it will be extended and how that might apply to schools opting to reopen their doors remains an open question.

AEA survey: 68% of teachers ‘very uncomfortable’ returning to school

Seventy percent of recently-surveyed Alabama educators said remote learning should be the only option when the schools year begins. An Alabama Education Association survey conducted July 13-15 received 40,997 responses from teachers, administrators and support professionals. The largest group of respondents work in elementary schools, but middle and high schools and higher education were also represented.

The survey results, which are not scientific, were released Tuesday. They showed:

  • 68% of teachers are “very uncomfortable” returning to school in the fall if conditions then are like they are now.
  • Asked if COVID-19 has made them think about retiring earlier than expected or leaving the education profession, 43% of administrators, 35% of teachers and 31% of support professionals said yes.
  • Earlier this month, Alabama Daily News reported that some school leaders are concerned about potential COVID-19-related staff shortages if personnel take leave because of safety concerns or if they are exposed to or contract the virus.
  • More than half the respondents in each group, including 53% of administrators, said it will be difficult to implement social distancing and other health practices inside school buildings.
  • Sixty-one percent of teachers and 62% of administrators think schools should open with only remote learning options, not in-person classes.

Al.com education reporter Trisha Powell Crain on Monday reported that 19 public school systems and one charter school have so far opted to go virtual only for the beginning of the school year.

In the survey, 45% of administrators, 43% of teachers and 42% of support professionals said they have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. About 40% of each group said they are also a caretaker for someone at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. The majority of all three groups support mask mandates for staff and students.

At an Alabama State Board of Education meeting earlier this month, State Superintendent Eric Mackey  said the state department of education cannot mandate that students or staff wear face coverings. That can only be done by the governor, the state health officer or local ordinances or school board decisions.

A majority of survey respondents said their employer had been in contact with them about plans to reopen. And most respondents in all three groups said schools should reopen “only after public health experts determine it’s safe to return.”

The AEA represents about 85,000 members and is the state’s largest education group.

Sen. Randy Price update

Last week, Alabama Daily News reported that State Sen. Randy Price, R-Opelika, had been put on a ventilator in his fight to beat COVID-19. As of Tuesday, Sen. Price’s wife and Lee County Revenue Commissioner Oline Price reports that the senator has been taken off the ventilator and is doing much better, despite some initial setbacks.

From Commissioner Price:

We are rooting for you, Mr. Price. Get well soon.

The Dismukes Debacle

For much of the weekend, the eyes of the nation were on Alabama as the late Congressman John Lewis, native son and Civil Rights hero, made one last passage through his home state on the way to the nation’s capital. From the memorial service at Troy University to the images of his casket crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge and climbing the stairs to the State Capitol, Alabama shone in the spotlight. The events were meaningful and moving, and we almost pulled the whole thing off without a hitch. Almost.

Few knew that on Saturday in Selma, mere miles from that bridge, a group of Confederate sympathizers was gathering to celebrate the life of their “hero” Nathan Bedford Forrest, noted Civil War battlefield general and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. In fact, very few ever would have known. These groups rarely send out press releases, after all. But they do send invitations (see below).

Enter State Rep. Will Dismukes, the 30-year-old upstart Republican from Prattville. Dismukes spoke and led the invocation at the celebration, then posted a picture of it on Facebook with a full complement of Confederate flags in front of him and a portrait of Forrest behind him. Everyone knows what happened next. Within hours, Dismukes’ post caught the eye of the Alabama political universe and the freshman lawmaker was the subject of ridicule and condemnation on social media. By Monday, stories began to fill the internet and airwaves along with bi-partisan calls for Dismukes’ resignation.

But wait a minute. This isn’t the first time Dismukes has attended Confederate events or even been criticized for it. In fact, he is known for his affection for the antebellum, his disposition for Dixie, his connection with the Confederacy, his bond with the boys in gray. He sometimes wears a Stars & Bars lapel pin. He is not only a member of the local Sons of Confederate Veterans, but the group’s chaplain. Earlier this year, Dismukes attended a “Confederate Flag Day” event at Confederate Memorial Park and was criticized on social media, but that came mostly from liberals, making it easy for Dismukes to chalk it up to “cancel culture” and the like. Why would this episode be any different?

Because it hits different. Specifically, Nathan Bedford Forrest makes it hit different. The Confederacy at large is harder to pin down, especially in the South. Forrest is specific and his atrocities are easy to assemble once they are laid bare. He bought men, women and children. He sold men, women and children. He massacred black people. After the war, he terrorized a generation of African Americans made free despite his best efforts in battle. Nathan Bedford Forrest was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and celebrating his life is unimaginable to anyone who understands that.

Perhaps most amazing in the entire ordeal is how Dismukes was seemingly surprised that his participation in the birthday party offended anyone. He told WSFA he knew nothing about Forrest’s involvement in the KKK nor did he know Lewis’ memorial was passing through Alabama that weekend. First of all, one doesn’t need a history degree to know that Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Klan leader. We all learned that from watching Forrest Gump. Lighthearted as the movie scene may have been, it was hard to miss, so nobody gets a pass on that. Second of all, Dismukes knew enough about Forrest to warrant driving outside his district for a birthday celebration, and yet this dues-paying SCV member and officer had no idea about Forrest’s infamous leadership of the KKK in the years after the Civil War? That’s one of three things: willful neglect, tragic ignorance or bullshit. Either way, it’s not a good look.

Not surprisingly, Alabama Democrats quickly called for Dismukes’ resignation. But again, they did that last time. What was interesting this time is Republicans’ response to the situation. Statements have ranged from pretty strong (ALGOP Chairman Terry Lathan and House Majority Whip Danny Garrett, R-Trussville) to pretty milquetoast (Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon), but the fact that there are statements at all tells you this is different. By far the most scathing Republican criticism came from State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, who shares a hometown and part of a district with Dismukes. “He does not represent my views or the views of the vast majority of people of District 88,” the usually reserved Chambliss said. “The post is bad enough, the timing is even worse, but the real problem is that an elected official in 2020 would attend a celebration of the life of someone that led a group that terrorized and killed other human beings. He has had 24 hours to understand why people are so upset, but his interview on WSFA a few moments ago confirms that he is lacking in understanding and judgement – he should resign immediately.” That’s a stinging indictment and a damning vote of no confidence from Dismukes’ upper chamber colleague.

The question is, will it matter? Is Dismukes’ job actually in danger? After all, being a SCV member and wearing a Confederate flag pin might keep a lad like Dismukes from ascending to higher office, but it probably won’t stop him from getting reelected in Autauga and Elmore counties. But what about celebrating a Klan leader and, when confronted about it, not apologizing?

It is unlikely that Dismukes will resign. He has a strong enough cadre of supporters and sycophants to surround him and convince him that he’s the real victim here. He could be vulnerable in a 2022 reelection run, but not just because of the Confederate stuff. Dismukes had barely brought his hand down from taking the oath in the State House before he started publicly flirting with higher office, first the U.S. Senate and then the U.S. House. He eventually dropped out of the House race, but the dalliance damaged him in the eyes of some hometown folk. These liaisons also took him to Washington, D.C. during the 2019 legislative session and caused him to be absent for votes, which were somehow cast anyway. For example, his “present” vote on the lottery bill that session kept the legislation from advancing even though he wasn’t in the chamber. These are all potential vulnerabilities once brought out on the campaign trail. Then there’s the money game. He made few friends in Montgomery voting against the Rebuild Alabama infrastructure plan, so it was already going to be hard to count on the broad coalition of business groups that supported that bill. The Alabama Education Association was Dismukes’ largest donor in 2018 at $25,000, but it would be easy to see how theirs and other groups’ money might dry up given a controversy involving three Ks. With that said, Dismukes won the 2018 GOP Primary Runoff with 72% of the vote as a first time candidate, so even with baggage and without backing, he remains a formidable candidate.

The biggest liabilities might not be for Dismukes himself, but rather for the Alabama Republican Party, both electorally and legislatively. There’s a reason Lathan didn’t waste time or mince words. She gets it. She’s trying to elect Tommy Tuberville in a high-profile race to reclaim a traditionally Republican Senate seat, and this isn’t helping. Tuberville would surely rather talk about Doug Jones than Will Dismukes. There is also talk of the Executive Committee of the Alabama Republican Party formally rebuking or censuring Dismukes at its meeting this coming weekend. It’s too early to say if that will actually happen, but it’s worth noting that not one Alabama elected official has come to Dismukes’ defense. However, the only thing worse than the ALGOP not taking action would be having a censure vote fail.

To be sure, the pain for Republicans will be most acutely felt in the Alabama Legislature, and specifically the House of Representatives. On every bill, every vote and every motion, House Democrats are going to bring up Dismukes and his Klan clambake. As agonizing as that will be for Republicans to sit through for ten minutes at a time, it will be even more so the moment someone slips up and responds insensitively, creating the kind of moment that brings sessions to a grinding halt. And Dismukes doesn’t have to be at the mic or even in the room for all this to take place.

Seasoned Alabama politicos will remember a similar situation that ensued with former State Sen. Scott Beason, who was recorded on a federal wire (which he was wearing) referring to African Americans as “aborigines.” An embarrassed Beason couldn’t apologize enough, but it still caused a real ruckus in the Senate and ultimately cost him his Rules Committee chairmanship.

Dismukes doesn’t have a chairmanship to strip or even a plum committee assignment to take away. There is little House leaders can do beyond publicly condemning the comments and privately urging him to walk away or at least try to make amends. Expect both to happen more in the coming days.

Quiet conversations on race

While the Dismukes drama plays out in public, there are other, quieter conversations on race relations happening behind the scenes. IAP has learned that Gov. Kay Ivey has met three times with members of the Legislative Black Caucus in recent months. These meetings, which were not announced or promoted publicly, stemmed from the Alabama United group formed in January with more than 50 black state leaders. According to sources with knowledge of the meetings, the discussion has centered around finding small areas of agreement and compromise in order to build trust and momentum for larger progress down the road. As issues of systemic racism and police violence emerged this year, the meetings have involved more discussion about bridging divides and ensuring that tragedies that occurred in other parts of the country can be avoided here in Alabama. Black lawmakers met directly with Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Hal Taylor and Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham to address law enforcement issues. Meetings have also included the Business Council of Alabama and others in the business community to address topics like training opportunities, minority business development, diversity on licensure boards and closing the gender pay gap.

Broadband and Reconciliation

It’s no secret that Gov. Kay Ivey and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh have been at odds over the last few months. The two have been a tight pair dating back to when Ivey was Lt. Governor and their offices worked together to run the Senate. Yet, they got crossways during the final days of the 2020 legislative session over the authority and appropriation of federal CARES Act dollars. Reading their public statements, one would have thought the acrimony would be long lasting.

However, astute observers saw an olive branch recently in Ivey’s latest press release announcing COVID-19 grants. Marsh was prominently quoted, saying, “the governor and I are mutually committed to ensuring Alabama’s students have the necessary tools to access a quality education. I appreciate Governor Ivey’s work with the State Board of Education, the superintendent and others to implement a program through which local school systems can utilize CARES Act funding to meet students’ technology needs for the upcoming school year.”

Big questions remain on exactly how CARES Act money can be applied to broadband infrastructure, especially considering the federal government’s tight rules and timeline. However, it looks as if Marsh and Ivey have reconciled their differences and are now on the same page in pursuing an expansion to benefit education. Well-placed sources in both branches of government tell IAP that more broadband announcements are soon to come in the days and weeks ahead.

AlaDems come to life

The Alabama Democratic Party, having finally jettisoned the longtime (some would say lack of) leadership team of Joe Reed and Nancy Worley, is breathing new life with new Chairman Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, and new Executive Director Wade Perry.

Perhaps the most visible change has been their social media presence . Whoever runs their Twitter account day to day has a deep knowledge of SEC football, and is not afraid to tie current events to historical gridiron happenings. The results are often hilarious and good for fundraising, even if, as we often stress, Twitter Is Not Real Life.

More tangibly, the party announced that it is hiring for a spate of jobs throughout the state. The listings, which are linked here, run the gamut from operations and finance to communications and organizing, and are well-paying positions. The communications director, data director, operations director, training director, voter training director, digital organizing director, organizing director, and political director all list salaries of $6,000-$7,000/month plus “health benefits at no cost to the employee.” Each of these positions has a listing for at least one deputy position at $5,000-$6,000/month plus health care.

These jobs are advertised as being for the 2020 cycle, and most are based in Birmingham, though Democratic Party HQ is in Montgomery. Keen observers pointed out to IAP that this likely means that they are jobs under the banner of the party, but will be filled by people working almost 100% on the re-election of Senator Doug Jones. This is not anything nefarious. Party operations fall under different rules governing allowable contributions. It’s also worth noting that such work would likely not have been available if the previous leadership had remained in place.

All told this is an estimated $100,000+ per month operation of salaries alone, which doesn’t include benefits, reimbursements, mileage, housing, offices, computers, phones and so on which are integral to running a sophisticated, modern organizing and electioneering operation. Though we’re within 100 days of the general election, this should be a giant flashing warning sign to The Republican National Committee, The National Republican Senate Committee, the Alabama Republican Party and the Tuberville Campaign that the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Alabama Democratic Party and the Jones Campaign are willing to put every dollar and every person available into this race. Partisan control of the United States Senate may come down to whether Jones can somehow outpace Joe Biden and convince enough Republicans to “crossover” and vote for him instead of President Trump’s choice of Tommy Tuberville. It’s an uphill battle to say the least, but Democrats are at least trying to climb.

What happened in AL-2

For two weeks, Alabama pols and politicos alike have been asking each other the same question: What happened with Jeff Coleman and Barry Moore in the race for Congress AL-2?

The simple answer is that Moore, a former state representative, won the July 14th runoff overwhelmingly, taking 60% of the vote to Coleman’s 40%. But rewind just a few months ago and no one involved in Alabama politics would have seen that coming. Why? Because Coleman had the backing of basically every influential group that matters, a campaign warchest of at least $2 million and a sophisticated campaign organization – exactly the recipe for winning a political race. So, what happened? Inside Alabama Politics talked to several operatives who were involved in the race in various capacities, and the answer is complicated.

First, it’s true that Coleman was always the frontrunner. With and aggressive and effective advertising strategy, he sprinted out to the front of the pack to set the pace in the primary. However, with a field of eight candidates, including some big names and spirited upstarts, a runoff was always likely. Coleman’s 42% in the primary seemed to make him well-positioned to take the nomination in the runoff, but on March 14, Gov. Kay Ivey postponed the election until July 14 for fears of COVID-19 spreading. Had the runoff taken place as planned on March 31, there is little doubt that Coleman would have prevailed based on his name ID alone.

Four months gives a challenger a lot of time to organize. It also gives outside groups like Club for Growth time to take stock and figure out whether or not it is worth investing in a race. That time worked to the advantage of both.

Let’s back up here and acknowledge something important about Coleman. While his blanket advertising on TV, radio and billboards gave him near-universal name recognition, and therefore a lead in the primary, his support was always paper thin. A house of cards, if you will. Voters knew his name, mostly in a positive light, but there was never a groundswell of people clamoring to elect Jeff Coleman. There was never a solid base.

At the same time, Moore, while not nearly as well known amongst the broader electorate, brought with him a group of hardcore supporters that was with him through thick and thin. He had been on the ballot three times before and his volunteer base never gave up. So, in the four months that prolonged this election, Moore’s team went to work earning voters’ support one by one, and Coleman’s campaign ran out of gas. Of course, Moore had incredible assistance from the Club for Growth to the tune of $700,000, support that will manifest itself in interesting ways if and when he makes his way to Washington.

In modern politics, so much is attributed to fundraising or ad campaigns in terms of why a candidate wins a race. In this case, it was timing, planning and hard work on Moore’s part.

Local elections stir small towns

Across the state, most municipalities will conduct elections for mayor and city council positions in a matter of weeks. This includes mid-size and larger cities like Decatur and Daphne, Enterprise and Elkmont, Pike Road and Pelham.

While mostly staid affairs, some of these cities and towns are major drivers of growth in their areas, with the municipal government controlling large budgets and pushing against the geographic restraints of their boundaries.

Some, like the Decatur election, have spats with consultants that spill over into the media. Such was the case this weekend when the Decatur Daily published a jeremiad written by one candidate impugning the motivations and character of a consultant advising several candidates in their city’s election: Heather Wilson.

Wilson chose to defend herself and her company’s reputation on Facebook. Wilson has worked with and for hundreds of candidates throughout Alabama, and her reputation is one of a solid professional who produces good work on behalf of her clients. IAP has known and worked with consultants of all stripes over the years, and just like any industry, the consulting industry has its share of consummate professionals, mid-range scrappers, and fly by night gadflies. Almost every cycle there’s some new genius who is going to show everyone some new tricks – but to stay in the business for 17 years, you have to be doing something right. It is usually a sign of larger problems within a campaign when the consultants become an issue – they are not public figures and should not be treated as such. Unless someone is actively engaging in criminal activity is our opinion that this type of attack is out of bounds.

Closer to the State Capital is Pike Road, The Fastest Growing City in Alabama, which has a long serving mayor and council, all of whom are up for re-election. Mayor Gordon Stone has guided “the town” for almost 20 years, and from a barely-there-oddly-named place on the map to a vibrant and energetic community through his grit and vision. Nine years ago they received statewide acclaim when they passed the first NEW property tax hike in close to 40 years to build their own school system. Though the system has had some growing pains – mostly due to unprecedented growth and demand – it is widely viewed as a rousing success, and as the architect of that, there is always buzz about Mayor Stone grabbing for the brass ring of higher office. This year he does not have an opponent, though one of his chief lieutenants on the city council does. Councilwoman Betsy Atkins, who is one of a few true Pike Road natives, is known as a tenacious fighter for what she believes in, and is fiercely protective of the interests of the town, and the school. Atkins herself has been mentioned as a potential candidate for higher office – even briefly considering a run for the then-open State Senate seat currently held by Sen. Will Barfoot. Atkins has a tough draw. Her opponent is a well known football coach and athletic booster for the school. It is not clear why he chose to challenge Atkins when there are other members of the at-large council who would be easier to defeat, but an in-the-know source informs IAP that another councilmember may be attempting something of a “palace coup.” Councilwoman Angie Bradsher is the most vocal opponent of the mayor’s agenda and the town’s direction under his leadership. She is known to be something of a thorn in the side of Mayor Stone and the other members of the council because of her outspoken and brash nature. Our source indicates that if she can gain an ally on the council, while knocking off a staunch supporter of the mayor, she thinks she can position herself to be the “real power” in The Town.

Enterprise is another in a long line of cities experiencing the enviable position of growing from a small town dominated by a few local interests and a strong leader as mayor to that with a decision to make about the direction of its future. Enterprise is both a Military Base town, and a stopping point on the way to the beaches of Florida. Most, if not all, of the local growth is dominated by these two interests. The influx of Army Aviation trainees and steady accrual of retirees has produced new restaurants, grocery stores and “suburban amenities” while the number of tourists on their way to Florida has fast food and convenience store operators flush. Enterprise is such a town on the make that their former mayor, Kenneth Boswell, was elevated to ADECA Director by Gov. Kay Ivey soon after her own ascension to the Governor’s office. Whenever a Mayor leaves before their term is over, the City Council President assumes the office of the Mayor. Thus did William “Bill” Cooper become the mayor of Enterprise. A long serving councilman, Cooper is being challenged by several candidates, most of whom have a connection to the local school system. The one outlier among the challengers is retired Army Command Sergeant Major Bill Baker. Baker is a VP of Navigator International, a defense contracting firm with offices throughout the world. Navigator’s CEO is Albert Patterson, III – the grandson of Al Patterson, he of Phenix City Story fame. It should be a competitive campaign.

Another race in the Montgomery orbit that is heating up is that of “The Preferred Community” of Prattville. Bill Gillespie became mayor 10 years ago when Jim Byard was named as ADECA director by former Gov. Robert Bentley. Gillespie has since been successfully re-elected twice. He is known for his fiscal conservatism – guiding Prattville through some rough financial waters during the aftermath of The Great Recession. He is being challenged by Dean Argo, a former City Council member and current public affairs officer for the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Argo’s main line of criticism against Gillespie is that he is “too tight” with the city’s finances – including not jumping at the chance to contribute city finances to the ALFA Farm Center, which eventually broke ground just north of the Autauga County line with the contributions of Chilton County and the City of Clanton. Some in Prattville have also grown impatient with Gillespie over unfulfilled hopes of a city school system that could pump more resources into Prattville schools that have been stagnant for years in everything but football. There’s an interesting chain of events here. When Argo resigned from the City Council in November 2010, former State Health Officer Tom Miller succeeded him as Council President, but not for long. Five months later, Miller stepped down, making way for Gillespie to fill in as Council President. A month later, Byard left for ADECA and Gillespie became mayor. So, had Argo not resigned due to work obligations in 2010, he would have been mayor and might still be. By all accounts, the race is not acrimonious. Gillespie and Argo are friends, but the race is likely to heat up in the coming weeks.

The main question for anyone challenging an incumbent is “why should the voters fire the person in the office currently, and why should the hire you?” It remains to be seen if any of these challengers can successfully answer those questions – but there’s only about a month left until we know the answers.

Municipal elections will be held on Aug. 25 and runoffs, if needed will be held on Oct. 6.

Rest In Peace Rep. Ron Johnson

Rep. Ron Johnson (R-Sylacauga) was the “Dean of The House” at the time of his passing. That title belongs to the longest serving member of the body. Johnson, 76, was first elected 42 years ago in 1978 as a Democrat to serve then-HD 54. In 1982 he was elected to serve in the newly constituted 33rd District, previously held by noted Alabama statesman Jim Bennett.

Bennett and Johnson switched parties in 1997 – before the 1998 state elections, along with a host of elected officials including then-state senators Steve Windom(Mobile) and Chip Bailey (Dothan) and fellow Rep. Mac Gipson, and  then- state school board member Bradley Byrne (Mobile).

Johnson was a pharmacist by trade, and known for his somewhat facetious surliness at the State House. He was also an occupant of a suite of offices known as the “Joe Ron Room” that became something of a redoubt for lobbyists and legislators from around the State House over the years. Inside Alabama Politics will have a deeper dive into that story next issue.

For now, our deepest condolences are with the family and friends of Mr. Ron. He was a one-of-a-kind State House personality who will be dearly missed.

Potpourri

Dr. Chad Mathis had been appointed to a new position in the Trump Administration. He is now Senior Advisor to the Immediate Office of the Deputy Health and Human Service Secretary. Alabama politicos will remember Dr. Mathis from his run for Congress in the 5ht District back in 2013 and his affiliation as State Chairman for the American Federation for Children from 2014-2018. Congrats!

Michelle Hopson has been hired as the Director of Finance for the Business Council of Alabama. She comes with 24 years of accounting experience in arenas spanning from governmental accounting to the non-profit sector with the longest tenure being in the banking industry. A graduate of Troy University with a Bachelors in Accounting and a Masters in Human Resource Management, the Goshen native now resides in Montgomery with her husband. BCA CEO Katie Britt said Hopson “will be a major asset to the team as we continue to serve Alabama’s business community.” Congrats!