Chris Elliott is the brand new Republican state senator from Baldwin County.  While he is new to the Senate, he is not new to politics, having served as a county commissioner for years.

We’ve told you about the dispute between the county school board and the city of Gulf Shores as they try to work out details of the city separating into its own school system.  Here, here and here.

Elliott spoke with John Sharp of AL.com and came down hard on state superintendent, Eric Mackey.  Here are some of his comments:

“We were close to avoiding all of this but for the lack of willingness of the state superintendent to negotiate at all,” Elliott said. “I think it is clear to me that, and these are through direct statements by Dr. Mackey, that it’s more important for the state superintendent to preserve the body of work his legal team has produced and, frankly, it’s more important to Dr. Mackey that he feels is his authority to issue these decisions.”

Said Elliott, “I think it’s clear by Dr. Mackey’s statements that he’s concerned about setting precedent of the authority and power of the state uperintendent’s office. Everyone was willing to compromise to make this amicable except the state superintendent’s office.”

Involvement by the state superintendent in city-school splits is rare, as most agreements are negotiated by the county and city districts.

Said Elliott, “The students of Baldwin County and the teachers of Baldwin County are pawns in a power struggle.”

Interpretation.  Elliott thinks Mackey is more interested in showing Baldwin County how important he is than looking out for students.

I’ve known Elliott for some time.  He is smart, politically savvy and a hard worker.  He and Mackey have had at least one face-to–face meeting about the Baldwin County situation.  It did not go well.