Lovin#039; Lucy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A host of city, county and state officials were on hand to greet Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley at the Tom Harbin Farm Center in Luverne on Tuesday night.

Tuesday was the annual recognition banquet for the Alabama Democratic Conference.

Baxley, who recently announced her candidacy for Governor of Alabama in 2006, delivered the keynote address, charming the crowd with her down-home humor and penchant for quoting Bible verses. She jokingly said of her election as state treasurer in 1994 and '98, and her successful bid for Lt. Governor in 2002, that much of it had to do with the 'I Love Lucy' signs that still populate rural areas around the state.

Baxley, who is originally from Houston County, said she has always wanted the public's approval. The public responded by making her the first woman ever elected Lt. Governor in Alabama and she actually received more votes than either current Gov. Bob Riley or incumbent Don Siegelman did in the highly-contested governor's race that year.

Sen. Wendell Mitchell, who introduced the Lt. Gov., said he and his fellow senators wondered what Baxley would bring to the senate as the first female elected to that office.

"Let me tell you we had discipline like we never had before," he said. "She took charge, ran an efficient senate and hit the ground running from the start."

Baxley touched on several topics Tuesday night, including the need for the governor to work with the legislature, a possible allusion to Riley's frequent battles with the largely Democratic senate. She also said, like a family household, that the state government would always have to deal with budget problems.

"We'll never have the money to do everything we want to do," she said. "But as governor you listen, address the needs of everyone, and you do it with compassion and understanding. Then you make decisions based on the good of the family."

Baxley said one of the biggest things holding the state back was lack of unity among public officials.

"It's not about a political party; it's about being fair," she said. "We must have unity. Public servants must be public servants for all the people."

Baxley said all citizens of the state have a vested interest in each family in Alabama. She said education is, and will remain, the top priority in preparing Alabama's children for the future. The care and well-being of the state's senior citizens, said Baxley, is also a 'close and personal' issue.