Special to the Wallace State website. Reprinted with permission by The Cullman Times.
Reps. Randall Shedd and Corey Harbison took their oaths of office in very fitting fashions on Wednesday.
For Shedd, a distinguished and long-time servant of Cullman County, his oath of office was taken on the 12th floor of the Bailey Center at Wallace State Community College, surrounded by dignitaries, many of those who had honored him at his retirement party from the Cullman County Commission on Aging a few days prior.
In addition to his previous position, Shedd was the chairman of the Cullman County Commission from 1977-85 and the mayor of Fairview from 1996-2012.
For Harbison, an up-and-coming politician who will be one of the youngest members of the Alabama House of Representatives, his oath of office was taken in front of a small crowd at the Cullman County Courthouse, the heart of the district where his grassroots campaign began.
Harbison, though only 28, is not completely green. He served two terms as mayor of Good Hope before being successfully elected.
Both, however, were humbled and surrounded by friends and supporters. Also, both were in attendance of each others’ ceremonies, demonstrating the camaraderie they hope to build.
The new District 11 representative selected Wallace State for very particular reasons.
“The location is because Hanceville is new to my district and now is the largest city in it,” Shedd said. “I chose Wallace State because it is the largest employer here, and it is very important to the region.”
Shedd was swore in by Johnny Dyar, the mayor of a town very special to his heart.
“I never want to forget where I came from,” Shedd said. “So the mayor of Baileyton, where I grew up, administered my oath of office.”
After taking his oath, Shedd shared with those in attendance his plans for the future.
“I do know the first legislative bill I will introduce on the first day,” he said. “It will be a bill for a pay raise for employees of two-year colleges in Alabama. Somehow, they have been skipped in the past, and we have to correct that omission. I have already asked Legislative Reference Service to write the bill, and I have it with me today. It is ready for the first day.”
Wallace State President Vicki Hawsey Karolewics said she was “delighted” with the proposed legislation.
“Randall obviously understands the importance of education,” she said. “Post-secondary emphasis has been excluded since 2007. In order to be competitive, our salaries have to be competitive.”
As a last thank you to the college and his district, Shedd also signed a check for $2,500 for a scholarship program. The scholarship recipient will be a student from his district who participates in dual-enrollment.
Shedd said his focus in Montgomery would center on statewide deficit, job creation, simplification of government and the core values of the people in his district.
As for existing and future projects, Shedd touched on the County Road 222 interchange and state Route 157.
“We just have to make sure these projects have follow through,” he said.
Harbison was sworn in by Circuit Judge Greg Nicholas. As the proverbial new guy on the block, Harbison was ready to get his feet wet.
“It’s an honor to serve this district,” he said. “I want to get in there with the group we have and work together.”
The new and existing infrastructure projects in Cullman County were topics Harbison was ready to get up to speed on from his veteran colleagues.
“We’ve talked about some of our local issues, but we want to get together as a local delegation — me, Randall, Paul (Bussman) and Ed Henry — before we discuss those issues with everyone.”
As for new legislation he’d like to introduce, Harbison expressed concern for how ABC liquor stores are currently exempt from municipal ordinances.
“I’d like to have them abide by them,” he said. “It can really hurt local, small businesses.”
Harbison also discussed a potential bill that would increase stealing cattle to a class B felony. He said he believes, as the top agriculture county in the state, that Cullman County farmers face significant challenges when cattle are stolen.
Shedd and Harbison will begin the legislative session March 3, but both now-offical representatives urged their constituents to contact and share concerns and ideas.