Last week’s announcement from Gov. Kay Ivey that the Interstate 10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway project was “dead” was somewhat of a political upset for some.
The announcement from the governor came almost immediately after the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) met last week and voted 8-1 to remove the I-10 project, which included a proposed toll, from its Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). Some credit the intense political pressure directed by State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who over the past several weeks was able to organize on social media an opposition movement to the project.
Zeigler had amassed a Facebook group with nearly 55,000 members when it was all said and done. During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Saturday, Zeigler called his Facebook group an “organizing tool” for the effort.
“We used the Facebook group as a communication tool and an organizing tool for the citizen movement,” Zeigler said on “Politics and Moore.” “And man, did it catch fire. I’ve never been involved in anything like it. The people were against this. Only certain Montgomery politicians were for it. And we beat them.”
The Republican state auditor likened the bridge opposition’s success to the Civil Rights Movement.
“The more we learned about this plan, the worse it got,” Zeigler said. “The people rose up, and I’ve never seen anything like it since the Civil Right Movement of the 1960s. I wasn’t involved in that, but I was a young student watching it.”
Zeigler told co-hosts Shannon Moore and David Pinkleton initially there were naysayers but he refused to listen to them.
“By now, since we’ve beat and we have almost 55,000 members, almost every politician is against it now,” he added. “But when we first started, people would tell me, ‘You’re wasting your time. This is a done deal. They’re going to ram it down our throats like they did the gas tax increase … and fortunately, I didn’t listen to that.”
Going forward, Zeigler said he intends to use the anti-toll’s following for future endeavors.
“We thought we would develop a movement with 500 or 600 who would be fighting it,” he said. “And lo and behold, it just exploded, and we’ve got 55,000 members. And we intend to keep them and keep them involved and take our government back from Montgomery and Washington. Government should be from the grassroots up, not from Montgomery down.”