Political foes no more, Ala. gov hires election opponent

Posted by: John Shryock - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Just three months ago Robert Bentley and Ron Sparks were on different political tracks trying to get to the same station: The governor's office. Forget political tracks, they're now on the same train.

Governor Robert Bentley Wednesday signed Executive Order Number Five, which establishes the Alabama Rural Development Office. Sparks, the state's former Agriculture Commissioner, will run the office. Bentley's office say Sparks will make $80,000 per year in the new role.

Bentley said his former opponent and he share a common desire to create a better quality of life for Alabama's rural areas. "During the campaign, I got to know Commissioner Sparks well and the one issue we could always agree upon is the need to improve the lives of those who live in our rural communities," Bentley said. "This is an example of how we can put politics aside and work together for the common good of all Alabamians. I appreciate his willingness to serve."

The new office's purpose is to improve and advance education, healthcare and economic development in the rural areas of Alabama. The Executive Order also rescinds previous Executive Orders which created the Black Belt Action Commission and the Alabama Rural Action Commission. The missions and responsibilities of those  now defunct programs will be rolled into the Alabama Rural Development Office.

Sparks said he looks forward to leading the Alabama Rural Development Office and working with the Governor. "It's an honor to work with Governor Bentley on rural issues. I look forward to implementing the Governor's policies improving the quality of life in some of our state's poorest regions."

The fiscal agency of the Alabama Rural Development Office is the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

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