3 months ago

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh is a 2019 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh’s political career began in high school, continued through college and then took off for good not long after she graduated from Auburn University.

Cavanaugh is close to finishing her second term as president of the Alabama Public Service Commission, and, yet, the story of her impact on the state continues to be written.

She ran for class office numerous times as a student at Jeff Davis High School in Montgomery and worked as a volunteer on George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign during college.

According to those who knew her then, she was a natural at it.

After one year of teaching ninth grade science and computer programming, she packed up her things and moved to Washington, D.C. for a job answering phones at the Republican National Committee.

Her early foray into politics was driven by a desire to be involved and enjoyment of the energy and excitement surrounding political organizations.

Now, 14 years after having been elected as the first female chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, Cavanaugh sees her participation in the process in a completely different way.

One of those ways is doing her part to create more efficiency in state government.

Cavanaugh has put that approach to work in her own agency.

During her time at the Public Service Commission, she cut staff by 38% through reorganization and attrition. She reduced the number of state cars in use by 59%, including refusing a state car for herself. She reduced her own office space by 2/3.

Over the past seven years, she has “rightsized” the PSC and reduced overall spending by 30%. This has saved taxpayers over $50 million and will continue to save Alabama over $10 million annually. In 2017, the PSC returned a record $13 million to the state general fund.

And, yet, a sense of service has most decidedly marked her time in office.

“Serving in public office has allowed me to help people in ways I never knew I could,” explained Cavanaugh. “But it has also presented me with opportunities to do other things important to me.”

What is important to Cavanaugh is her faith and her family.

“So many doors have opened for me to share my faith in ways I never would have been able to had I not been serving in public office,” she said. “We have all been put into our unique situations for a reason. I know, now, that all the traveling around Alabama I have done, people from all over that I have met campaigning, being able to do all those things has allowed me to be a light for Christ.”

And that’s why she wants to continue serving her native state, whether in office or as a private citizen far into the future.

“People need help,” remarked Cavanaugh. “When we’re helping storm victims or helping small businesses get started or there’s someone who wants the opportunity for a good job, when we’re doing that, we’re helping people.”

Being able to help people spiritually is just as meaningful for her.

“We all need help spiritually, too,” she added. “When I have visited storm sites and seen how lives have been changed or been to coal mines and met miners worried for their jobs, it means as much to me to be able to love them and pray for them. Being able to help people with both parts of their lives has been a tremendous blessing for me.”

Running for office and serving as president of the Public Service Commission has also provided her with the ability to show her own daughter what opportunities are out there for women.

“There were times when my daughter didn’t quite understand what I did, and that made it tough as a mom,” said Cavanaugh. “I can remember a time when I volunteered at her school, and she wanted me to change out of my suit so I could be dressed more like some of her friends’ moms. Then, as she got older, she became one of my biggest cheerleaders. Now she knows a career is out there for her in whatever she sets her mind to.”

She often speaks to women’s groups and offers whatever advice she can.

“I tell women to think bigger and more broadly to achieve their goals,” she advised. “There is rarely a direct path to where you want to go.”

She points toward the fact that she taught school for a year so she could save up and move to Washington where she got a job as the lowest ranking employee in her division.

“It is never going to be easy,” Cavanaugh remarked. “The key is to make stumbling blocks into stepping stones.”

The rigors of a campaign and elected office can be tough to handle. The scrutiny can be intense.

Cavanaugh’s faith is what guides her and at the same time is the reason why she thinks no one should let fear of that scrutiny stand in the way of running.

“No one is perfect – not any one of us,” she said. “That’s why we can find comfort in God’s grace. So no one should be discouraged from serving and putting themselves out there to be part of making our state and our country better.”

Yellowhammer News is proud to announce Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh as a 2019 Woman of Impact.

The 2nd Annual Women of Impact Awards will celebrate the honorees on April 29, 2019, in Birmingham. Event details can be found here.

6 hours ago

University of North Alabama adopting new tuition plan

The University of North Alabama is switching to a tuition plan that officials say will result in increased costs for some students but not others.

Officials at the school in Florence say they are reducing the total number of student fees from seven to one, and fees will be included in the overall tuition cost.

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A statement says students taking 15 hours will see a maximum increase in expenses of 4.1%.

But some could pay less, and costs will not change for others.

School officials say a lag in state funding is a continuing problem.

North Alabama’s vice president for business, Evan Thornton, says the school has deferred maintenance and capital needs totaling more than $160 million.

The school has an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,200 students.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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6 hours ago

Nathan Lindsay joining governor’s office from BCA

Another high profile staffer from the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is joining Governor Kay Ivey’s senior level team.

The governor on Monday announced that Nathan Lindsay will join her office as director of appointments effective July 1.

This position is charged with spearheading the meticulous work that goes into Ivey meeting her duty to appoint qualified, representative and appropriate people to positions on the state’s various boards and commissions.

A press release from the governor’s office outlined that Lindsay assumes the role with an extensive background in state government and the private sector, which uniquely qualifies him to advise the governor in this capacity.

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Most recently, through his work in political and governmental affairs at the BCA, Lindsay interacted with members of the business community throughout the Yellowhammer State, which significantly adds to his ability to identify and select candidates for various appointed posts.

Additionally, Lindsay’s early career included time in then-Governor Bob Riley’s office where he served as aide to the governor from 2006 to 2011. Lindsay also worked in the governor’s communications office as deputy press secretary and advised Riley on education policy.

“Nathan brings to our team a wealth of knowledge that I know will serve the state well,” Ivey said in a statement. “In addition to his expertise and insight, Nathan is a man of character. The men and women of my staff must have a strong work ethic, a depth of knowledge and a heart for public service. Nathan certainly embodies all of these characteristics.”

Lindsay earned his bachelor’s degree from Faulkner University. During his time at Faulkner, he served as SGA president and later, in 2018, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for the College of Arts and Sciences.

“As governor, I have the important responsibility of appointing qualified individuals to serve on the more than 450 boards and commissions in our state. These men and women must not only be highly-qualified, but they should also be a true reflection of our great state,” Ivey added. “I am confident we will continue to find the best people to serve our state, just as I am certain Nathan will serve my Administration exceptionally well in this position. His experience speaks for itself, and he shares my goal of moving Alabama into a better future.”

This comes weeks after Leah Garner departed BCA to become Ivey’s communications director.

Mark Colson also left BCA to become head of the Alabama Trucking Association recently.

Update 5:55 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt released a statement commending Ivey on the hire of Lindsay.

“Nathan’s background and expertise in political affairs combined with his political acumen uniquely qualify him to serve the governor and the state in this capacity,” Britt said. “I have no doubt Nathan will do an outstanding job, and I commend Governor Kay Ivey on this excellent addition to her staff.”

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

7 hours ago

Alabama listed as one of the top 20 most patriotic states in America

A WalletHub report released Monday revealed Alabama to be on of the top 20 most patriotic states in America.

Ranked 19 overall on the list, with a score of 47.43, Alabama ranked first for the “Civics Education Requirement.”

The report “compared the 50 states across 13 key indicators of patriotism” and “ranges from share of enlisted military population to share of adults who voted in the 2016 presidential election to AmeriCorps volunteers per capita.”

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With one as “Most Patriotic” and 25 as “Average,” Alabama received the following rankings:

  • 5th – Average Number of Military Enlistees per 1,000 Civilian Adults
  • 30th – Active-Duty Military Personnel per 100,000 Civilian Adults
  • 17th – Veterans per 1,000 Civilian Adults
  • 1st – Civics Education Requirement
  • 12th – Share of Civilian Adult Population in Military Reserves
  • 10th – Share of Adults Who Voted in 2016 Primary Elections

Alabama also ranked eight overall for ‘Military Engagement.’

The report, which compared red states to blue states in terms of patriotism, found that red states were more patriotic. Red states received an average rank of 23.67, while blue states received an average rank of 28.25.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

8 hours ago

Brooks: ‘Really dumb’ for Democrats to elect candidates mainly on ‘skin pigmentation or their chromosomes’

In an interview on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show”on Friday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) lamented that many Democrats have become more interested in racial and gender identity politics than the welfare of America.

Coming off of her much maligned comments comparing American immigration facilities to “concentration camps,” host Dale Jackson asked the north Alabama congressman if he believes that Democrats in Congress will allow Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to continue to serve as their “de facto face and leader.”

“Yes,” Brooks answered succinctly, promoting a follow-up request for his reasoning.

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“Well, she is where she is,” Brooks explained. “She’s got a lot of political power. She’s got a lot of support — surprisingly.”

“There are large, large numbers of American citizens who have bit off on this socialist stuff, who have bit off on this victimization stuff, who have bit off on thinking that the most important criteria in determining whether to elect someone is their skin pigmentation or their chromosomes — which is really dumb, OK,” he continued. “We oughta be electing people based on their character and based on their public policy positions.”

“But, notwithstanding that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the face of the Democratic Party in many different respects, and she does have great influence as evidenced by the presidential candidates on the socialist Democrats’ side who are trying to cultivate her support,” Brooks added. “They want her endorsement.”

Listen, starting at the 8:25 mark:

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

8 hours ago

Democrats hope it’s 2017 all over again, Republicans just want the nightmare to end

In 2017, Roy Moore won a Republican primary run-off against an extremely flawed Luther Strange. Strange wasn’t just a regular candidate — he had the cloud of his appointment, and he was dogged by former Gov. Robert Bentley’s investigation, impeachment and resignation.

Alabama Republicans, outside of U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), were reluctant to criticize Roy Moore because they knew doing so would hand the Senate seat to now-Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

But this is different.

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State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) told the Montgomery Advertiser that he blamed the GOP establishment in 2017, but still thinks Moore can’t win in 2020.

He stated, “I do not believe, with the numbers I look at, that Roy Moore at the end of the day can get the nomination.”

State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) dismissed Moore when asked about the candidates, saying, “If you look at the candidates, you got Roy Moore. I don’t think we need to say more there.”

Later, he all but endorsed U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) by saying Byrne “would do the best job.”

Secretary of State John Merrill, a potential future Moore opponent, believes Moore has an uphill battle against Jones.

“I think it would be extraordinarily difficult for Judge Moore to be successful in a general election campaign against Senator Jones,” Merrill outlined.

He added, “I also think it would be difficult for Judge Moore to secure the Republican nomination.”

Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), who endorsed Moore in 2017, has already endorsed State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) and is on record saying former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions would be a favorite.

“I do believe that Jeff Sessions would clearly be number one in the poll rankings, based on his having been such a great senator on three principle issues: free enterprise versus socialism; deficit and debt; and border security,” he explained.

Say what you will, but you do not usually see these kinds of pronouncements from Republicans in the middle of a primary.

Democrats hope 2017 is going to be repeated in 2020, but there are many different factors that will matter.

Roy Moore is already fatally flawed as 300,000+ Republicans voters abandoned him in 2017 and stayed home. Many of those voters will vote in the primary in 2020, but will not vote for him.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Saks) expressed a similar sentiment on CSPAN last week.

“I personally don’t think Roy Moore is going to be our nominee, but whoever our nominee is will prevail in November because you’ll have the full complement of Republican voters turning out turning out to vote,” he said.

This is not 2017.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.