Survey has some truth, but not much

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 28, 2003

A recent survey released by the Alabama Education Association offered some telling numbers about the confidence local citizens have in their elected officials. At the same time, the questions on the survey &045; as is the case with most &045; were misleading and poorly explained. Because of that, it’s hard to put credence on much of what the results said.

First, for the important and noteworthy portions of the survey: Citizens in our area of the state don’t feel like they have leaders in political office who will get things accomplished for them.

In actual numbers, the survey suggested that 65 percent of all citizens in this area of dissatisfied with the level of attention they receive from their elected officials.

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That is a scary number for any elected official. In essence, it means citizens who actually go to the voting booths want to make a change and they want people who will work for them.

That seems kind of ironic, considering what voters in this area have done at the ballot box in recent years.

Charles Steele and Hank Sanders both represent a large portion of the Black Belt in the Alabama Senate. So far as we can remember, neither has been seriously challenged for his seat in the past eight years.

Thomas Jackson and Lucius Black both represent Marengo County in the Alabama House of Representatives, and both have been re-elected to serve in Montgomery.

If citizens in this area are serious about wanting change, why do they fail to change the people they elect? There may be ample reason for that, but we urge voters in this area to be consistent when they answer questions about their community.

If you don’t like your representatives, then it’s simple to vote them out of office. If you do like your representatives, then don’t blame the problem on them.

While that is an important argument, we believe the AEA survey holds little if any real water because of the poor way in which questions were asked and citizens were questioned.

One of the biggest findings for the AEA was that 63 percent of all respondents didn’t know Gov. Bob Riley has formed a new Black Belt Commission that is working to solve some of the problems of this area.

The survey, conducted in February, proves its flaw because Riley does not even have a commission yet. Though he announced that he would form a commission and that Sanders would chair the commission, there is no such commission yet. They haven’t met and no one even knows who the members of the commission are.

In its summary, the AEA survey seemed to find it noteworthy that Black Belt citizens didn’t know there was a commission working for them. Is it any wonder they didn’t know about a commission that doesn’t even exist?

When groups like AEA sponsor a survey such as this, they often ask questions framed to generate the response they want. That seems evident in this case.