Tribute to State Senator Hinton Mitchemby Former Representative Jo Bonner
Posted on 2013-02-06
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Mr. BONNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to a long-time Alabama
political leader and businessman who dutifully served the Tennessee
Valley region for more than 30 years in Montgomery. Former State
Senator Hinton Mitchem, of Union Grove, passed away on January 22,
2013, after an extended illness.
A Georgia native and a 1961 graduate of the University of Georgia, Senator Mitchem served in the United States Coast Guard before moving west to Alabama in 1962 to pursue his future. It was not long before he left a mark on his community by becoming both a successful businessman and a respected public official.
In 1965, Senator Mitchem founded Hinton Mitchem Tractor Co., Inc. in Albertville and continued to serve the farming community for 40 years before selling his business in 2005. He first entered politics as a member of the Albertville City Council in 1968. In 1974, he was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives, representing the 25th District, serving a single four-year term from 1975 through 1979. He then ran and won election for State Senate in 1979. His Senate district included Marshall County and parts of Blount, Madison, and at one time, DeKalb County.
In 1986, Senator Mitchem set his gaze towards higher office, entering the Democrat primary for Lieutenant Governor. After coming in third in the statewide contest, he returned to the Senate a year later easily winning a special election created when a vacancy occurred in his former Senate seat.
A statesman who was respected by politicians on both sides of the aisle, Senator Mitchem was elected President Pro Tempore of the Alabama Senate on January 9, 2007. He chaired the Finance and Taxation and Education Committees and, twice, the General Fund Committee. He was selected as one of the five Outstanding Senators in 1983 and again in 1984. In 1985, he was voted by his colleagues ``The Outstanding Senator'' in Alabama. When he retired from public office in 2010, he held the distinction of being the longest-serving member in the Alabama House and Senate, having served a total of 36 years.
Upon his retirement in 2010, Senator Mitchem told the Arab Tribune that his single most significant legislative accomplishment for his constituents was the passage of a bill directing TVA ``payment in lieu of taxes'' funds to the Alabama counties in which the federal utility is located. Prior to the passage of the legislation, the Alabama general fund received the TVA payments. Senator Mitchem also sponsored legislation creating the Alabama Housing Finance Authority, and was a staunch supporter of Alabama's two-year college system and Alabama's State Parks, to name but a few of his many contributions.
Senator Mitchem's public service was not limited to elected office. In 1980, he was appointed by then-Republican Governor Fob James, Jr. to chair the Alabama Governor's Commission on Physical Fitness, serving in that capacity for 28 years. He also served 18 consecutive years as Chairman of the Alabama Special Olympics.
On behalf of the people of Alabama, I wish to extend my personal condolences to his wife, Judy; and their four children, Todd, Tanya, Dee and Brittnie; their three grandchildren and their extended family. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.