Sparks eyeing run for governor

Published 11:50 am Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Alabama Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks is in his last term in office, but he said voters will likely see his name on a state ballot again in the future.

Reelected to a second term in 2006, Sparks cannot run for agriculture and industries commissioner again, but he is eyeing a run for governor or lieutenant governor in 2010.

“If I had the opportunity to stay commissioner of agriculture and industry I’d be perfectly happy, but I can’t do that,” Sparks said Tuesday night following a speech to the Troy Kiwanis Club. “That just leaves governor and lieutenant governor and I am looking at both very strongly.”

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Sparks, a Democrat, was elected Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries in 2002. He said he plans to continue his political career after his term in office ends.

“I can assure you the people of this state will see my name on a ballot in the future,” he said.

Speaking to the Kiwanis Club, Sparks promoted research into alternative fuels to make the nation more energy independent. He said Alabama’s agriculture industry can play a role in developing such fuels.

“We’ve got to be more energy independent and less dependent on foreign oil, and we can do that in Alabama through agriculture,” Sparks said.

Alabama does not produce enough corn to be viable ethanol producer, Sparks said. He encouraged research into biofuels made from substances grown in abundance in Alabama, like cellulose from wood.

“We’ve got to find what works for us,” Sparks said. “Our state is two-thirds wood and we need to capitalize on that.”

He said the state should strive to produce from alternative fuels at least 10-percent of the more 2 billion gallons of fuel pumped annually in the state.

“We can produce alternative fuels, but I believe we’ve got to be committed,” he said.