He has been called the champion of the common people of Mississippi. We're talking about former Governor Bill Allain. He died Monday at age 85.
Sworn in on a soggy January in 1984, former governor Bill Allain never shied away from controversial issues. He created a fire storm when he sought to remove legislators from state boards citing the state Constitution. The state Supreme Court eventually sided with Allain.
At the time, the governor said, "Bring their attention to the constitution in the state of Mississippi, which sets up the separate departments of government."
He opened doors for a large number of women and minorities by appointing them to government jobs.
The former governor made it clear during his campaign that he would be a pinch penny when it came to your tax dollars.
During a 1983 press conference, Allain said, "They will have to prove to me that they've done everything possible to cut back on the expenses and cut back on budgets before I will consider a tax increase and a burden on the people of the state of Mississippi."
It's a quality state Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole fondly recalls.
Cole said, "He was personally frugal as well as frugal with the public's money."
Allain's campaign for governor was tainted with scandalous accusations involving African-American transvestites, that not only made statewide headlines, but hit the national news media. He vehemently denied the claims and none was ever proven.
Cole said, "And it was just dirty politics and we've seen a lot of that before and a lot of it since and we'll see some in the future, but I think if you measure the career of Bill Allain, in the scale of the public interest, he left Mississippi a much better place for his service."
Allain had been hospitalized about two weeks with pneumonia. He died at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson. Bill Allain was the first Mississippi governor in modern times who could've run for a second consecutive term after the ban on gubernatorial succession was lifted in 1986. He chose not to seek re-election.
Governor Phil Bryant issued a statement saying, "Deborah and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Gov. Allain, and we are praying for his family and friends. We appreciate his many years of service to this state and are also grateful for his service in the United States Army."
"Today we mourn the passing of our beloved brother and uncle Bill Allain. Bill loved the State of Mississippi and spent his life as public servant defending and representing the people of Mississippi as Assistant Attorney General and later as Attorney General. He represented the consumers of Mississippi and advocated for the average Mississippian.
As Governor he continued to represent all Mississippians and his administration was inclusive of all people: black and white, male and female, Catholic and Protestant, rich and poor. He never forgot his upbringing and his strong Catholic faith.
He was able to forge a coalition in the Legislature to work for the common good and in victory or defeat he was able to forgive and be tolerant of those with differing points of view. We as his family thank the people of Mississippi for choosing him as Attorney General in 1979 and for electing him Governor in 1983.
Bill always served with honor, integrity and distinction. His Catholic faith and servant hood was the driving force in his life and career.
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