8 months ago

Gen. Ed Crowell wants to bring military, leadership experience to Montgomery mayor’s office

MONTGOMERY — The August 2019 mayoral race in Alabama’s capital city is heating up and already features a highly competitive lineup of candidates.

Perhaps most well known among the motley field are former Congressman Artur Davis, Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed and WCOV’s David Woods. Reed is the son of Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) head and liberal political powerbroker Joe Reed.

However, it is two political outsiders that are taking the race by storm thus far: Brigadier General Ed Crowell (Ret.) and local attorney JC Love.

Yellowhammer News recently sat down with Crowell at his downtown campaign office, right off the historic Court Square Fountain, and discussed his decorated background, leadership style and motivation for entering the race and policy goals.

‘On the shoulders of giants’

Quiet but commanding, Crowell’s nickname could very well be “The Genteel General.” As he dove into the interview, his background in military logistics was not easy to miss. For each topic that came up, I could see the wheels turn in Crowell’s mind as he thoughtfully considered his response. Genuine yet measured, everything he said fit together neatly.

“We have the old saying in the military: ‘we stand on the shoulders of giants,'” Crowell said. “Well, the backbone of our services is the enlisted force … but there always has to be a leader. And when you’re thrusted into a leadership role, you don’t become a leader just because you’re thrusted into that role. You’ve got to earn your keeps. You’ve got to demonstrate your mettle.”

“And you do that by, first of all, being a good listener,” he explained.

This was a theme throughout the interview — his emphasis on listening as a leader. Whether it was heeding the advice of enlisted sergeants in the Air Force, subject matter experts in the private sector or other community leaders involved with the countless board and organizations Crowell has served, he stressed the importance of operating from a place of knowledge – and how to get there.

This skillet, and mentality, earned Crowell the reputation as being a fixer in the Air Force. He would go into dysfunctional units, listen to the service members, assess the situation and meticulously and personally work solutions.

This kind of experience served him well in his parallel career trajectory in the corporate world. Crowell served both as an active and reserve duty officer at various intervals, which allowed him to build quite the legacy at Blount International and then VT Miltope, where he eventually became president and CEO before retiring.

Whether at one of these distinguished Alabama companies, in a civic or charitable organization or in the military, Crowell has always led by example. One of his core tenets of leadership is that you never ask of someone what you yourself would not be willing to do. It was that frontline mentality that sometimes got him derided by fellow officers in the Air Force, as Crowell would do chores normally reserved for enlisted men and women. However, the same attribute also garnered the respect of the people he was meant to lead, with Crowell noting that troops would walk through fire for him because they knew he would first walk through himself.

“We’re a team, and we’re going to work this as a team,” he added.

Giving back

For someone who has always been on the civil service side of public life, dipping his toes into politics is not necessarily a natural thing. However, when members of the community started approaching Crowell to run, his modus operandi kicked in.

“I made a decision years ago that I was going to be on the giving end rather than the receiving end,” he explained.

And Crowell has been doing so ever since he came to Montgomery in 1968. His work in the community is renowned, best exemplified by his being named the city’s “Man of the Year” in 2018. From the YMCA to the Shakespeare Festival, Crowell has served on the board or been chairman of just about every civic or philanthropic organization possible in Alabama’s capital city. Each step along the way, his leadership style and dedication to bettering the community one cause at a time has earned him the respect of his peers, which just kept getting him recruited to serve in more and more ways.

He sees being Montgomery’s mayor as the last recruitment destination on his journey — one final, hugely impactful way to give back to the community he and his family love.

Crowell also views his longtime service as a personal investment into the community and future generations. In his opinion, Mayor Todd Strange’s administration has the city moving in the right direction, and the retired general wants to keep this momentum going and protect his investment the best way he knows how – through serving.

“I feel I’ve made a sizable investment in this community, and I think the train is on the right tracks right now,” Crowell shared. “And I don’t want to see any regression in it. The only way I can be assured that it continues, because I’ve never been one to be on the sidelines: if you’re not in the game, you can’t play.”

“So, I made a decision that I’m going to be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And you do that by being in the game. If I’m in the game, I can ensure that my investment does not go astray. … I’m pretty passionate about helping. And I’m pretty passionate about making certain that there is follow-through on whatever we decide we want to do,” he continued.

‘Neighborhood mayor’

While noting there are several policy issues and goals he has, Crowell stressed that there are two priorities that stand above the rest for Montgomery right now.

“[T]hey’re visible … education and crime,” he said. “I think the root of crime is education. If individuals are not educated, or they don’t feel like they can be educated, then we’ve got a problem.”

Crowell said he will be a “neighborhood mayor,” visible and personally engaged with each area of the city. He wants to restore hope to the neighborhoods that are in a state of decay — both by addressing vacant buildings and cleaning up overgrown, neglected lots, as well as instituting tangible programs that ensure opportunity is accessible for hardworking people in Montgomery, regardless of their lot in life.

He also said he is “not going to be defensive about crime.” Crowell openly acknowledged the problem and explained that he wants to tackle the problem head-on.

“I’m going to lay the gauntlet down where it is,” Crowell advised.

He also noted that government alone cannot be the solution to Montgomery’s present or future. He urged others to get involved just as he has been for the last half-century: volunteerism. Crowell also shared some advice for those looking to make a difference.

“You learn that you’ve been given opportunities that others may not think that they have, although they were there – they didn’t take advantage of them,” he said. “You should be a spark for some of these others who’ve given up, who feel like they can’t excel. They need somebody like you to show them the way.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

50 mins ago

Watch: Alabamians line up with American flags to welcome slain Naval ensign home

As seen in a video posted on Twitter, people lined the streets of Enterprise on Friday to welcome home Navy Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson.

Watson, a 23-year-old Coffee County native who also spent many of his formative years in Blount County, was killed in last week’s shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

The hero’s body arrived at Dothan Regional Airport on Friday and then a procession took him to Searcy Funeral Home in Enterprise.

Considering Fort Rucker’s presence, the area has a high percentage of military families, making Watson’s murder that much harder on the Wiregrass community. People lined the procession route with American flags, honoring his service, sacrifice and life.

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A public memorial service for Watson will take place at the Enterprise High School Performing Arts Center at 11:00 a.m. next Saturday, December 21.

Burial will be the following day at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo. Governor Kay Ivey has ordered flags to half-staff on that day of internment: Sunday, December 22.

RELATED: How the hometown of a NAS Pensacola shooting hero is paying tribute to one of their own

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

‘God loves you. Jesus paid the price’: Secret Santa pays off all layaways at Alabama Walmart

Christmas came a little early for several shoppers with layaway purchases at the Walmart in Anniston.

As reported first by ABC 33/40, an anonymous Alabama man came into the store recently and paid off the entire layaway balance at the time. The total value of the items he paid off was reportedly $65,000.

All the Secret Santa requested in return?

That each customer with a layaway item he paid off received a note, each with just the same seven words:

“God loves you. Jesus paid the price.”

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While the man’s tremendous act of generosity was greatly appreciated by customers ABC 33/40 interviewed, that seven-word message seemed to touch people powerfully in and of itself as well.

“That really topped it off,” Kandy Ward explained. “I really loved the message that he put out there and I think that’s what he wanted to do.”

Another shopper, Hannah Haynes, agreed.

“Everyday I wish I could thank the anonymous person for being so obedient (in his faith),” she said.

Haynes added that she stuck the note on her refrigerator and plans to keep it there, letting it serve as a motivator.

“Everyday I’m gonna wake up like, ‘How can I bless someone?'” Haynes remarked. “How can I show someone that type of love?”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Byrne introduces bill allowing cartels to be treated as terrorist organizations under federal law

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) is leading the charge in the U.S. House of Representatives to be able to officially treat international drug cartels as terrorist organizations under federal law, something that President Donald Trump has recently expressed as a priority of his.

Byrne announced on Friday that he, along with Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), has introduced the Significant Transnational Criminal Organization Designation Act.

This legislation would create a new federal designation, “Significant Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs),” which has more stringent sanctions than the existing transnational criminal organization designation. The penalties for Significant TCOs would mirror many of the penalties for entities currently designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), including sanctions on organization members and their families, travel restrictions and increased penalties for American citizens who grant them material assistance.

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In a statement, Byrne said, “We should not have to tolerate transnational criminal organizations exporting drugs and violence into our country.”

“This bill will enhance our ability to come after these groups and keep our communities and citizens safe at home and abroad. Congress should rally behind this effort and show these groups that there are severe consequences for their actions,” he advised.

This comes after nine dual U.S.-Mexico citizens were viciously slain by cartel members in northern Mexico on November 4.

Sanctions the federal government would be able to impose on Significant TCOs under Byrne’s legislation include:

  • Barring organization members and their immediate families from admission into the United States
  • Freezing assets
  • Seeking civil and criminal penalties against individuals providing material assistance or resources to the organization.

The bill also would require the president to submit a report to Congress detailing the government’s findings from the November 4 attack, including whether the cartel responsible should be designated as a Significant TCO.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has introduced the Senate version of Byrne’s bill.

Alabama has also had its problems with cartel-related violence and crime.

Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL) has advised that the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for “almost all” drugs imported into the Yellowhammer State. That cartel is headquartered in Culiacán, Mexico.

Just two weeks ago, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office took down two suspected Mexican cartel members in a major firearms and drug bust in the Birmingham metropolitan area.

Then, of course, there are the more shocking examples from the recent past, such as when cartel members in Alabama stabbed a grandmother to death and then beheaded her 13-year-old Huntsville granddaughter.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Ivey orders flags to half-staff honoring slain Navy ensign

Governor Kay Ivey announced Friday that she is ordering all flags on government grounds to be flown at half staff on Sunday, December 22 to honor the life of Navy Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson.

Watson, an Enterprise native who spent many of his formative years in Blount County, was killed in the shooting at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL, on December 6.

“Let us remember the life and service of Ensign Watson, who died as a hero trying to protect his fellow service members. We offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to his family, friends and community,” the governor said in her directive.

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According to reports relayed to the media by his family, the 23-year-old Watson saved many lives with his actions on the day of the shooting. His heroic actions drew praise from many of Alabama’s political leaders.

“After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable,” Adam Watson, the victim’s brother, told the Pensacola News Journal (PNJ).

Watson’s father, Benjamin, said of his son, “His mission was to confront evil, to bring the fight to them, wherever it took him. He was willing to risk his life for his country. We never thought he would die in Florida.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

You’re invited!

The biggest birthday party in Alabama’s history is taking place on December 14, and you are invited! Join us in Montgomery for the grand finale celebration of our state’s 200th birthday.

Watch the parade, listen to concerts and performances, visit open houses and much more.

This is sure to be a day you don’t want to miss. The event is free to the public and lasts all day starting with an elaborate parade at 10:00 a.m. The parade will travel from Court Square Fountain in downtown Montgomery up Dexter Avenue to the State Capitol. There will be marching bands, city floats and unique displays of Alabama history on wheels, such as the USS Alabama and U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The parade is a great opportunity for families to enjoy the celebration together – and it’s only the beginning of a packed day. Following the parade, Governor Kay Ivey will dedicate Bicentennial Park. The afternoon will offer performances, exhibitions and open houses throughout downtown Montgomery. The day will conclude with a concert featuring popular musicians from Alabama and the history of Alabama presented in a never-before-seen way.

Visit Alabama 200 Finale for a complete rundown of the day’s events.

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