Bentley tells Rotarians he’s the best candidate for governor

Columbiana native and gubernatorial candidate Robert Bentley, R-Tuscaloosa, spoke to the Alabaster-Pelham Rotary Club Thursday, telling the club that he’s the best man for the job in 2010 because he’s the most experienced and he can reach across party lines.

Bentley is a retired Tuscaloosa dermatologist serving his second term in the State House of Representatives.

Bentley was born in the Joinertown community, growing up in Columbiana and graduating from Shelby County High School before serving as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and graduating from the University of Alabama College of Medicine.

“It’s always good to come back to Shelby County because it’s home,” Bentley said.

During his speech to the Rotarians, Bentley addressed several issues plaguing the state, including unemployment, education, healthcare and ethics.

“Alabama is a great state, but we’ve got some big problems,” Bentley said.

Bentley said the state must address the soaring unemployment rate by bringing in new businesses, while also focusing on preserving the businesses that are currently here.

Bentley, who sits on the Education Appropriations Committee, said the state needs to start doing pilot programs like performance-based teacher bonuses, vouchers and revamping the tenure system.

He also said the state needs to support the two-year systems, while making the four-year systems show more accountability.

“Sometimes, they become big black holes,” Bentley said of the four-year systems. “The more money you give them, the more money they want.”

Bentley also said he has drawn up a joint resolution acknowledging that the government must pay for any PACT agreements, and he plans to introduce it when the legislature goes into session.

However, the resolution will stop the PACT program in the future.

“We have a moral obligation to honor the agreement of those payments,” Bentley said.

On healthcare, Bentley said there has to be a focus on creating more primary physicians. He would accomplish that by setting aside 25 percent of medical school seats for students becoming primary care doctors.

Schools would offer $30,000 scholarships as long as students worked four years in their field after graduating.

Bentley closed out his address by reminding those in attendance that, as a Shelby County native, he is looking out for the people he lives with and serves.

“I’ve always been a Republican. I was a Shelby County Republican before all these Democrats switched over to become Republicans,” Bentley said with a laugh. “But as strong of a Republican as I am, I am also able to work across party lines.”