We’re taking a mid-week break from the Power & Influence 40 to give you a peek at the future. The people listed below are some of the brightest up-and-comers in Alabama state politics. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Is there a future Governor or Speaker on this list? It’s impossible to say for sure. But I can tell you one thing without a doubt: this group of talented up-and-comers will be playing a significant role in shaping Alabama’s future.
Slade Blackwell | State Senator
Blackwell grasps issues very quickly and has already gained the respect of veteran legislators. Leadership already takes his advice into consideration. He has endless connections in the Birmingham business community and is well positioned to be a major player in the future.
[Note: Sen. Blackwell was also listed earlier in the year as one of our “Legislators to Watch”]
Clinton Carter | Deputy State Finance Director
Carter is a graduate of the famed Wharton School of Business and has a solid private sector background. He is young and ambitious and has gotten rave reviews from people who have dealt with him since he took on the role of Deputy Finance Director. One insider summed up Carter in one word: “Brilliant.”
Tony Petelos | Jefferson County Manager
Petelos is not a conventional fit for an “up-and-comers” list but he’s poised for a bit of a second act in Alabama politics. He is a former legislator and was a cabinet member in the Fob James administration. He also received acclaim for his service as Mayor of Hoover. Now he has taken on what some people view as a nearly impossible challenge as Jefferson County Manager. If he’s able to help pull Jefferson County from the financial fire, his stock will rise higher than it ever has before.
Bill Poole | State Representative
Poole has impressed a lot of people in a hurry. He’s on the fast track of upward mobility. He’s bright and ambitious but easy to work with. “He’s always willing to listen and really knows his stuff,” noted one insider. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sitting in the Speaker’s chair or in the Governor’s office some day,” said another.
[Note: Rep. Poole was also one of our “Legislators to Watch”]
Greg Reed | State Senator
Leadership in both the executive and legislative branches are recognizing Reed’s ability. He is already Treasurer of the Senate Republican Caucus PAC and Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. Governor Bentley has also already appointed him to two boards — the Statewide Health Coordinating Council and the Health Insurance Exchange Study Commission. “He’s definitely an up-and-comer,” said one insider.
Emily Schultz | Education Policy Director | Office of the Governor
Schultz jumps into her new position at a time of transition in Alabama education policy. The AEA has ruled with an iron fist for decades and the opportunity for progress and reform has finally come.
She has a Masters in Education from Stanford but also spent time teaching in low-income schools, so she has both the academic and practical background to speak with authority. She also has experience turning around schools on a macro level. Education is about to be the center of debate around the state and Schultz will be right in the middle of it.
Dale Strong | County Commissioner | Madison County
At 41, Strong is already the youngest county commissioner in the state and he’s currently running for Commission Chairman. He has worked hard over the past decade and is now in a position to be one of the most powerful people in a thriving area of our state. “He just sort of runs the place up there,” noted one insider. Candidates running for statewide office are smart to seek his support.
Phil Williams | State Senator
Williams faced one of the more daunting campaigns of the GOP freshman class and his victory opened a lot of eyes. He has shown significant policy aptitude and he hasn’t so much as blinked while getting beat up unfairly by the AEA in Montgomery and on his home turf. Both of those characteristics have not gone unnoticed. He’s already carrying one of the more important economic development bills for leadership.
[Note: Sen. Williams was also one of our “Legislators to Watch”]