Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Former SGA president runs for state seat

Of the 96 years the SGA has been a part of the Capstone, only seven presidents of the organization have been not allegedly been supported by a coalition of greek organizations.

The last was John Merrill, who is now running for the District 62 seat in Alabama’s House of Representatives. This district covers the eastern and southern parts of Tuscaloosa County, along with Taylorville, Duncanville, Brookwood, Vance and Lake View municipalities.

Merrill formally announced his candidacy last summer, and he said his campaign is now in full swing. He said if he is elected, he plans to focus on five key issues that he believes are the most important to the state: education, economy, economic development, ethics reform and accountability and transparency in the government.

Merrill said the transition between K-12 and higher education is a big problem in the state, and he thinks this must change in order to keep the opportunity for students to receive a college degree alive.

“There is a significant fight in Montgomery over K-12 and higher education right now,” Merrill said. “I believe we can find a way for them to compliment each other. We should not have to sacrifice one for the other.”

He is also very concerned about the state’s current economic climate and wants to find alternative ways to bring economic development to Tuscaloosa.

“What we have to first realize is that we need to keep existing businesses at home before we bring in new ones,” he said. “The only way you create wealth is to take an existing product and improve on it. Helping the existing economic industries in Tuscaloosa is just as important as trying to recruit new businesses to the area.”

Merrill said his time serving as an SGA official in the 1980s was beneficial for him in learning about people, public policy and the formation of political coalitions.

“I learned very quickly that if you don’t have the support of the greek senators, you won’t get anything passed,” he said. “It’s not always about who gets the credit. It’s about getting things done.”

Merrill also noted that there is a problem with the lack of transparency in the state government. He said there is currently no way for citizens to see how money contributed by political action committees is being spent.

“We need to find new ways to report financial spending so that taxpayers know where and how their money is being spent,” Merrill said. “Because right now, we don’t know.”

Merrill said a number of people at the University have expressed interest in his campaign and want to see him get elected.

“I am very thankful for all the support from the University, whether it be financial contributions or people volunteering their time to my campaign.”

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