Chapman starts term as secretary of state

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Long time Shelby County resident Beth Chapman took over as Alabama&8217;s secretary of state on Jan. 15 after defeating Democrat Nancy Worley in her re-election bid last November.

Chapman, a Republican, credits much of her political and personal success to experiences she has had while living and working in the area.

&8220;I have spent all of my adult life in Shelby County activities,&8221; Chapman said. &8220;It may not be where I grew up but it is where I have made a home with my husband and two sons, and it is a great honor to represent it.&8221;

Chapman moved to Shelby County as a freshman in college to attend the University of Montevallo.

A dean&8217;s list student at UM, she was elected as an officer in the Student Government Association and a class senator.

During her career, Chapman continued to serve others. She spent much of her time working in the non-profit sector as the director of special events and later the state executive director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Alabama.

Politics, however ,continued to call her, and in 1995, she became a cabinet member for Gov. Fob James. Chapman was the first woman selected to serve as the governor&8217;s appointments secretary and worked with him on the appointments of various top state officials.

She also went on to work as Lieutenant Governor Steve Windom&8217;s press secretary in 2000 before running a successful campaign for state auditor in 2001.

On her first day in office Chapman said she already had an important duty to carry out.

&8220;I was very proud on my first day to pick up a check from HAVA [Help America Vote Act] to reimburse the county [Shelby County] for voting equipment it purchased,&8221; Chapman said.

HAVA is high on the list of priorities for Chapman&8217;s term in office. The federal law changed state election rules in several ways, including requiring a &8220;paper trail&8221; in case of a recount and improvements to help disabled people vote.

&8220;We must be HAVA compliant by Aug. 31,&8221; Chapman said. &8220;We are working diligently to make sure that happens and pull the state out from under a federal lawsuit.&8221;

Another big-ticket item on Chapman&8217;s agenda is creating a more accessible system for military voting.

&8220;I would like to be the driving force behind getting military voting online by the 2008 election,&8221; Chapman said. &8220;That&8217;s one of the endeavors we have before us. Plus, the aim of making the next elections the most efficient and ethical ones this state has seen.&8221;

On Jan. 15, fellow Shelby County residents, Probate Judge Patricia Furmeister and Supreme Court Justice Pattie Smith swore in Chapman as Alabama&8217;s 51st secretary of state.