MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Two weeks after local officials effectively killed the state’s proposed Mobile Bridge and Bayway project, Gov. Kay Ivey has replaced a Baldwin County state senator on a key transportation board.
Sen. Chris Elliott, a Republican from Daphne, was appointed by Ivey earlier this year to serve on the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program II Committee, a new panel created by the gas tax and infrastructure legislation to evaluate local road and bridge projects.
Ivey on Monday removed Elliott from the committee and replaced him with Mobile State Sen. Vivian Figures, a Democrat.
“Serving on ATRIP II is a privilege, not an entitlement,” Ivey said in a statement to Alabama Daily News from the Governor’s office.
“It also carries with it significant responsibilities and as such, I have asked Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, the most senior senator from the Mobile/Baldwin County delegation, to take my appointment to this committee. Sen. Figures has a proven track-record of seeking progress and finding ways to bring people together who are seeking common ground. Given that South Alabama has so many priorities reflecting the growth and activity in this region, I thought it was better to have someone who knows how to get things done and has a record of working with everyone.”
Figures during the 2019 session spoke against the 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase and was one of six senators to vote against it.
Elliott had been a critic of the state’s plan to toll the Mobile Bridge and Bayway project and publicly sought funding alternatives to avoid tolls.
Elliott told Alabama Daily News he doesn’t think Ivey changed her mind about his qualifications to be on the board.
“But I get it, this is how politics works,” he said.
Elliott, a former county commissioner, said he was involved in and a supporter of the bridge proposal for several years, until it became clear the current proposal was “flawed.”
“I have long been and remain a supporter of a solution for the I-10 corridor, but as details of the scheme proposed by ALDOT were made available, it was clear that this was a bad deal for my constituents and bad deal for Coastal Alabama,” he said in a written statement.”
“I will remain a supporter for a solution for the I-10 corridor, but not one that places a burden on the backs of folks that I represent,” Elliott told Alabama Daily News..
Ivey’s office said Figures’ appointment is reflective of her leadership style — goal oriented and results driven.
“It makes sense for Sen. Figures, the most senior senator from the (Mobile and Baldwin counties), who has a proven track record of seeking progress and seeking common ground to serve in this capacity,” Ivey’s office said.
Alabama Daily News has reached out to Figures for reaction to the governor’s actions.