Stricklend: They Were Right

  • Published: August 21, 2017
  • The President’s Perspective | By Bill Stricklend, ACCA President | County Commission August 2017

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    This year has gone quickly, been most rewarding

    Almost every former Association president told me the same thing. They said this year would be one of the most rewarding of my tenure in public service and that it would pass much more quickly than I could expect.

    And they were right. As I am nearing the end of my term as president of this Association, it is important that everyone know this year has meant more to me and to my growth as a leader for my community than I ever imagined.

    We’ve accomplished much in the last year. But, as was the case with my friend Ray Long, I have left a very important task on the table for our next president, Steve McKinnon.

    As commissioners, we know well the unique electricity of election night. Months and months of effort to bring about the outcome you believe is best for the future of your community, but then the ultimate decision is out of your hands. Voters have a dozen hours to cast their ballots, and then you wait for numbers to be tallied.

    Technically, my name wasn’t even on the ballot last November, but Amendment 4 might as well have been a referendum on all 351 commissioners across 67 counties. When the results came in, more than 70 percent of Alabamians had voted to grant additional administrative and management authority to counties (except Jefferson County). Local decision-making without the need for local legislation.

    I went to bed that night with the knowledge that our friends and neighbors had publicly stated that they trust county government – you and me and all the many essential public services that counties provide every day. Despite all the negative comments, Facebook posts and tweets to the contrary, the people of Alabama spoke loud and clear.

    They want decisions made at the local level. It is that simple.

    Be there! Convention Luncheon honoring 2016-17 President Bill Stricklend, August 24, 2017 | ACCA Annual Convention

    Amendment 4 definitely goes on the highlight reel, and like you I am eager to hear more on implementation when we are together for the Annual Convention in a couple of weeks. And let’s not forget that counties had two other wins at the general election with the approval of Amendment 3 to improve the local constitutional amendment process and Amendment 14 to affirm existing local laws.

    In my inaugural remarks, I took a point from the Team 2021 Report and set it as a priority. I can just see the video montage ESPN would put together with all the evidence of re-energized affiliate groups. I have to believe the strategic planning committee is pleased with progress on that front this year.

    The Legislative Review Task Force brought county professionals from engineering, administration, 9-1-1, emergency management and revenue collection into the heart of legislative preparations in a new and high-impact way. Not to mention the accomplishments of individual affiliate groups – district meetings of administrators, collective work of emergency managers on certification and the engineer’s new training program for motor grader operators.

    And I’m proud of the progress we made on transportation funding. I’m not satisfied, and I know you are not either. None of us can be satisfied until counties have the resources necessary to provide the local road and bridge infrastructure that can meet the needs of our citizens and our economy.

    For my part, I can’t wait for football season to kick off. But I am reminded that sometimes the memorable, game-changing plays happen a down or two before anyone crosses the goal line. We covered some yardage the hard way this year. We moved the chains, and we get to keep our offense on the field.

    It might be tempting to look at those accomplishments and puff my chest out with pride, but to be brutally honest with you: I am humbled.  hasn’t been “my year” – it has been yours.

    Unlike a turnaround specialist brought in to shake up a struggling organization, I have had the immense privilege of serving as your president at a time when county government already had positive momentum.

    The way I look at it, my job has been to keep that momentum going and build on it wherever possible. I hope you agree that we have succeeded in that. What’s more, I am fully confident that President-Elect Steve McKinnon is ready to step forward and lead us through the 2017-18 year. While my term of office is ending, my commitment to you and this Association is not. I plan to keep going as a past president who is an actively engaged member of the Board of Directors.

    The drive to improve and protect county government did not start with me. It didn’t start with my predecessor, Ray Long, or his predecessor, Merceria Ludgood. For a starting point, look no further than July 9, 1929 – the day this Association was officially established.

    We are part of something much bigger than you or me, bigger than our accomplishments this year. The one voice of county government has kept going for 88 years, and I trust it will keep going long after the singular accomplishments of this year are in the rear-view mirror.