There is a Downside to Robert Bentley Becoming Governor

The down side of Tuscaloosa physician Robert Bentley becoming Alabama’s governor is that he takes with him great local residents like Jon and Rebekah Mason.

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Most of us who live in Tuscaloosa were elated that one of our own took the Alabama Governor’s Mansion as Robert Bentley won the top spot in defeating Democrat Ron Sparks last November.

Now a week into his administration, Bentley becoming governor is looking not as great as I thought, at least if I were to be selfish.

I’m realizing there IS a downside to having a hometown hero running our state–  he takes OTHER hometown heroes with him to Montgomery.

Losing A GREAT Weatherman

Friday we learned that Jon Mason, an outstanding meteorologist who knows Tuscaloosa and has done so much for WVUA-TV now twice  is leaving those of us at the University of Alabama  to become the director of the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

After former WVUA-TV meteorologist Wes Wyatt was hired away by another Birmingham area television station last year, I was excited to see Jon return to a position he once held a few years ago.

As The Tuscaloosa News reported Friday, Jon will join his wife, another WVUA alumna, Rebekah Caldwell Mason,who has already survived her first public relations crisis as Dr. Bentley’s press secretary.    Both Jon and Rebekah own a local marketing firm, Caldwell Mason Marketing, here in Tuscaloosa.

Surviving A Crisis

Hours after his inauguration, Bentley made national headlines for comments he made about his faith and connection to other Christian brethren during his prayer breakfast on Monday.

A meeting with Jewish leaders and a few press statements later, it appears all has been forgiven.  But,  Rebekah Caldwell Mason had to manage the situation very carefully.

The irony in the crisis is that it spotlights the importance of FAITH and RELIGION not only to Governor Bentley, a deacon at First Baptist Church here in Tuscaloosa, but also to the media in looking for a good story.

Jon Mason will be wading into those faith and religion waters as he reportedly will oversee a staff of 11 in the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

I suspect Jon will be making some of his own headlines with some of his efforts in this new role.  But, that doesn’t take the sting out of losing him on the air here in Tuscaloosa and North Central Alabama, especially as we have a few more weeks of winter weather ahead.

BE HAPPY ?

I guess I should be happy that we have highly-qualified professionals like Rebekah and Jon, who can represent our city well as they take on leadership for an entire state.

As Tuscaloosa residents, we have to think of Dr. Bentley, Rebecca Jon and other folks from our city as being ON LOAN to all of Alabama, for four years (or maybe longer).

We know they’ll be home soon.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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