By Steve Flowers
Alabama is in good hands with John McMillan. A good man is in the job of State Treasurer of Alabama for the third straight quadrennium.
Young Boozer served two successive four-year terms from 2010 to 2018. Mr. Boozer did an excellent job as treasurer. He was perfect for the job. He had been a successful banker. He ran for and did the job for the right reason, not for political gain or prestige, but to do a good job as Alabama’s treasurer. Some folks thought Boozer would make a good choice for higher statewide office. However, he and his wife, Sally, opted to enjoy a relaxed life.
McMillan is now doing the job of state treasurer for the very same reason. He, too, could go to the house and enjoy his life but he wants to serve the state he loves.
Before being elected state treasurer, he served two consecutive successful four-year terms as commissioner of agriculture and industries for Alabama from 2010 to 2018. The jobs of agriculture commissioner and treasurer, like all state constitutional offices, are term limited for two four-year terms.
McMillan and his wife Kathryn will eventually return to Baldwin County. His family roots run deep in Baldwin County soil. His family were some of the original settlers of the area before the Civil War. They have been in the timber business around Bay Minette for close to a century.
Interestingly, Congressman Bradley Byrne, who currently represents Baldwin County, has deep roots in Baldwin County. His folks settled on the Eastern Shore around Fairhope before Alabama was a state in 1819. In fact, McMillan and Byrne are cousins.
McMillan grew up in the rural community of Stockton near Bay Minette in Baldwin. He grew up in the county when it was primarily agricultural and was known as Alabama’s potato-growing county. He graduated from Baldwin County High School. He must have been a pretty good student because after high school he attended and graduated from the prestigious Rhodes College in Memphis where he earned a B.A. in economics.
McMillan was appointed to the Baldwin County Commission by Gov. Albert Brewer. After serving on the county commission, McMillan was elected to the state legislature. He served two terms in the House of Representatives.
After the legislature, he was chosen to head the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. During his time as commissioner of conservation, McMillan was instrumental in the creation of the Alabama Trust Fund which preserves revenue from offshore oil and gas leases.
He then spent 20 successful years as executive vice president of the Alabama Forestry Association. He was elected agriculture commissioner in 2010 and reelected in 2014. As agriculture commissioner, he oversaw one of the largest departments of state government. He served as president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture and also on the National Board of Agriculture departments.
As is fitting for a former conservation director, McMillan loves hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. However, he mostly loves his family. He and Kathryn have two sons, William and Murphy. They also have two grandchildren.
His most famous relative is his twin brother, Steve McMillan. Rep. Steve McMillan took his twin’s seat in the house from Baldwin County in 1980 when John was appointed Conservation Director. Steve has served with distinction in that Baldwin County House seat for more than 38 years. He has been elected to nine four-year terms. Steve is only superseded in Alabama history for legislative longevity by Pete Turnham, Alvin Holmes, Ron Johnson and James Buskey.
You can bet your bottom dollar that your money will be safe with John as Treasurer.
However, that has not always been the case with treasurers in Alabama history. In March 1887, Alabama State Treasurer Issac “Honest Ike” Vincent, absconded with more than $225,000 in State funds and fled the state. This was quite a sum of money in 1887.
Our fugitive state treasurer was arrested on a train in Big Sandy, Texas and returned to Alabama for trial. Vincent was tried and convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to 15 years in the state penitentiary.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.