Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - John McMillan, a good man as Alabama Treasurer

  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 2010-2018. 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 Young Boozer would make a good choice for higher statewide office. However, he and his wife, Sally, opted to enjoy a relaxed life. 

  John McMillan is now doing the job of 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, McMillan 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. McMillian’s family roots grow deep in Baldwin County soil. His family members 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 in Congress, has deep roots in Baldwin County. His folks settled on the Eastern Shore around Fairhope before Alabama became a state in 1819. In fact, John McMillan and Bradley Byrne are cousins.

  John 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 BA 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 Alabama Legislature. He served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives.

  After the legislature, he was chosen to head the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. During his time as commissioner, 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 then reelected in 2014. As 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 Alabama House of Representatives from Baldwin County in 1980 when John was appointed conservation director. Steve McMillan has served with distinction in that Baldwin County house seat for over 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 McMillan as treasurer. However, that has not always been the case with treasurers in Alabama history. In March of 1887, Alabama 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.

  About the author: 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 He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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