Survey: Citizens don’t like politicians

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2003

A recent Black Belt survey conducted by the Alabama Education Association suggest most residents in this area like where they live but wish different people represented them.

The survey, released by the Capital Survey Research Center, polled 593 adults in 12 counties – including Marengo County – and found that 71 percent of this area’s residents like where they live. At the same time, 65 percent of all respondents said they have little confidence that they can influence their local politicians or business leaders to make a change in the place they live.

Ken Tucker, a Marengo County commissioner who represents Demopolis, said he understands the frustration of people who were polled for this survey. Though he hadn’t seen a copy of AEA’s survey, he said citizens must understand the power of local officials.

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While $6 million may seem like a lot of money to an average household, it isn’t much money on the government level. In comparison, the city of Demopolis, with less than one-third of the population of the county, has a $7 million budget.

For Tucker and Demopolis Mayor Austin Caldwell, the concern citizens have over local leadership could become skewed in the expectations citizens have about the ability of local politicians.

State officials then make the determination as to where and when infrastructure money can be spent. For the county, the $3 million or so that goes to highways and bridges is simply to maintain those pieces of infrastructure already in place.

Besides what seems to be a concern about local officials, the survey results could be aimed more at state leaders representing the Black Belt – which would mean Alabama representatives and senators. In the AEA survey, 23 percent of respondents said they were fearful that local governments have the responsibility to address local problems. An almost identical number of respondents (21 percent) said they believe state government has the responsibility to curb the problems of the Black Belt.

State Sens. Charles Steele, D-Tuscaloosa, and Hank Sanders, D-Selma, have control over Marengo County in the state senate. In the Alabama House of Representatives, Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville, Bobby Singleton, D-Marion, and Lucius Black, D-York, are the representatives who are supposed to take care of Marengo County.

In the United States form of government, the U.S. Senate has two representatives from each state, as Caldwell pointed out.