After a long, rainy day of touring the City of Auburn, Gov. Kay Ivey settled down at a long wood table with some of Auburn's most influential community and college employees.
The stop in Auburn was the second of the 11 cities on her "Listen, Learn, Help & Lead Tour."
The roundtable discussion took place at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center and was closed to the general public and press. Each of the members seated at the table picked at what was left of their desserts as conversation about the state of Auburn and the University continued.
The roundtable discussion will be replicated in each city to discusses the successes and needs of said city.
"Back before there was a transition the Lieutenant Governor then and her team had decided that if she were to become governor, about 100 days into the administration she would like to take a tour of communities across Alabama," said Press Secretary Daniel Sparkman.
Sparkman said her goal is to discover the needs in each local government to better serve the state as a whole. He said the roundtable is supposed to be a safe environment for community leaders to voice their concerns and wishes.
"Our policy advisors are already looking at some of the topics that came up in Dothan, which is where we went last week," Sparkman said.
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Three of the people at the table were President Steven Leath, SGA President Jacqueline Keck and Mayor Bill Ham. Leath sat to Ivey's left, leaning in to hear the points made by each of the members seated.
Keck said she took away only positive views from the discussion and as an overview, saw Kay's interest in the City refreshing and admirable.
"One thing I focused on the vision for education as being really important to Alabama," Keck said. The conversation was broad, she said, but she felt Ivey stood by her statements and feelings about education. Early in the tour, Ivey visited Ogletree Elementary and expressed her gratitude to the newly hired plot of 150 teachers.
Keck said the roundtable put less emphasis on Ivey's response to their statements and more taking the time to listen and understand what the members of the University and City truly wanted. Keck said it was a chance for Ivey to gain perspective and she felt that the Governor did just that.
Mayor Ham enjoyed the opportunity to discuss collaborative efforts between the University and the City, something that Keck echoed. Ham summed the conversation to three topics: work force development, educational funding and infrastructure development.
"There is a need throughout the state for repairs to highways, bridges and roadways," Ham said. "We don't have a way to appropriate the funds for those renovations."
Ham told The Plainsman he felt the whole room was in favor of a gas tax for infrastructure purposes. "There is no way to fix it and it's just going to cost more when you do," Ham said.
Ham said his biggest concern is bringing jobs to the area and provided the City resources to support large companies coming to Auburn.
"We were asking help to 'levelize' or equalize funding," between different schools in the same system. Ham said he wants Ivey to think of a process to avoid disabling or undercutting certain schools while boosting others up.
Ham and Keck both had positive messages concerning Ivey's willingness to travel through the state after only being in office for a short time.
"I'll be honest, it was overall a really positive meeting," Keck said. "Auburn is in a really great position and we have a great economic developer, great community engagement and our University is top-notch. If you put all of those together, Auburn is a pretty great place to be."
Leath said he enjoyed and appreciated having a local legislator in town to brainstorm ways to create a better Auburn City and Auburn University. The future was the topic, he said.
"As soon as we get back the information from each city we will start looking at what needs to be done now, what needs to go before the legislature and what the big dreams are," Sparkman said.
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