Photo by Jon Anderson
Dan Fulton speaks to the Hoover City Council in May 2016.
Dan Fulton, a retired high school social studies teacher and Bluff Park resident who was active in the fights to save Hoover school buses and to elect a new group of city leaders in Hoover in 2016, died this afternoon after a long battle with cancer.
He was 72.
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato, who honored Fulton in his state-of-the-city address to the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce in December, today described Fulton as “a great citizen of Hoover."
“He truly loved our city. He loved our school system. He saw the importance of public safety — all the things that go into running a city,” Brocato said.
For the past several years, Fulton has attended most meetings of the Hoover City Council and Hoover Board of Education and frequently took time to speak during the public comment portion of the meetings. Sometimes, he commended public officials and city employees for their work when he felt they had done a good job. Other times, he scolded them when he was disappointed in their actions or lack thereof.
He was among the leaders of the group that fought to keep Hoover school buses running after the Hoover school board in July 2013 voted to end bus service for most students. Fulton had “Save the Hoover Buses” protest signs and T-shirts made and distributed them in the community.
Due to public opposition and intervention by the NAACP and U.S. Department of Justice, that decision was reversed in December 2013. A subsequent school board decision to charge students a fee to ride the school bus also was reversed in August 2015.
Fulton also for the past several years advocated for a change in Hoover’s elected officials in the 2016 election. He created a “Hoover Vote 2016” campaign, mostly in an effort to elect officials who would boost funding for Hoover schools. The 2016 Hoover city election resulted in a new mayor and four new council members.
Councilman John Greene, one of the three council members who was re-elected, said Fulton would “unashamedly hold our feet to the fire.”
“He didn’t mind calling the council or the mayor out, and I admire that,” Greene said. "He will surely be missed.”
Brocato, whom Fulton supported for mayor, said Fulton is one of those people who hold elected officials accountable for their actions.
“He could be tough. You could not back him down and you couldn’t intimidate him,” Brocato said. “He was going to let his views out, and he was going to stand behind them. You could take it to the bank. He had his numbers and research done before he said anything.”
Photo by Jon Anderson
Dan Fulton Hoover council May 2016
Bluff Park resident Dan Fulton speaks to the Hoover City Council in May 2016.
Fulton also was an outspoken advocate for adding another 1 percentage point to the sales tax in Hoover, which would raise the city portion of sales taxes from 3 percent to 4 percent and the overall sales tax rate in Hoover from 8 percent to 9 percent in the Shelby County portion of Hoover and 9 percent to 10 percent in the Jefferson County portion of Hoover.
Fulton wanted the city to earmark the additional money, which he estimated to be about $20 million a year, to Hoover schools.
Fulton also has been a strong proponent of expanding the availability of preschool in Alabama’s public schools and — true to his civics teacher background — advocated for making government business more accessible to the people.
He personally recorded most meetings of the Hoover City Council and school board and posted the audio digital recordings on YouTube for the public to hear government in action for themselves. Due to public interest, the Hoover school board last year began recording its meetings on video and broadcasting them live on the Internet.
The new Hoover City Council followed suit and began broadcasting its meetings on YouTube at its last action meeting on Feb. 20. Fulton, who has not been able to attend recent meetings because he was on hospice care, came to the Feb. 20 meeting and thanked the council and city officials for working to make government more transparent.
He also thanked the Hoover Fire Department for outstanding service when they recently took him to Grandview Medical Center after he experienced a health problem. See Fulton’s last two exchanges with the Hoover City Council at the 13-minute and 1-hour-and-19-minute mark on that video here.
Robin Schultz, another Bluff Park resident who worked with Fulton to get the school bus decision rescinded, said the first time he met Fulton at a meeting regarding the school buses in 2013, Fulton introduced himself as someone with stage four cancer.
The school bus issue and the 2016 city elections energized Fulton and kept him going in a way, Schultz said. Fulton’s efforts greatly impacted both the bus issue and the city elections, and it’s good that he was able to die knowing some of his goals had been accomplished, Schultz said. “The race is over,” he said. “I think Hoover will miss him.”
Fulton chose to be cremated and will have a private burial service, said Arnold Singer, a friend. However, friends are planning to have a memorial service in his honor at the Artists on the Bluff facility in Bluff Park in the near future, Singer said.