Baxley wants results for area

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2006

If Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley is elected to the state’s highest office this November, she will do everything she can to make west Alabama as vibrant and progressive as the rest of the state, the gubernatorial candidate said Wednesday.

Just don’t look for a press release to inform the state of her success, she added.

“I would never ask people to give me credit for addressing problems just by having a commission and holding some meetings,” Baxley, who will be the keynote speaker at the West Alabama Black Belt Celebration in Eutaw Saturday, said. “I want to be judged by what’s happened: what new roads have been started, what new industry is hiring workers.”

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At the celebration – which will bring together leaders and citizens of Greene, Sumter, Perry, Hale and Choctaw counties – Baxley will speak from Eutaw’s Town Square, starting at 1 p.m.

After a lifetime spent in Alabama politics, she is considered one of the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination to be Alabama’s governor.

In addition to thanking Black Belt residents for support that got her elected to statewide offices like state treasurer and lieutenant governor, Baxley said she plans to discuss the “special needs” of west Alabama.

Economically, the Black Belt lags behind most of Alabama, she said, because deteriorating infrastructure makes it unattractive to job-producing industries. Recently, a hotly pursued Kia automobile factory slipped through the fingers of west Alabama and east Mississippi development officials.

Part of the reason, Baxley said, boils down to a

“chicken or egg” problem. Industries demand wide, well-maintained highways to move their merchandise. But often, she said, public highway money is funneled to regions that already boast growing industries.

“It’s like that portion of the state has been tucked away and forgotten,” Baxley said from her Montgomery campaign headquarters. “I’m just not satisfied with patting ourselves on the back with huge new industries in other parts of the state, without making sure we pull all our areas along together.”

Since the governor has executive authority over the department of transportation and the Alabama Development Office, Baxley said, it seems Riley should have more visible results to show off for all the words he’s said about helping the Black Belt.

“I have not had the opportunity to have those authorities that rest under control of the governor; Gov. Riley has had that for last over three years,” Baxley said. “The best way to evaluate what he’s done for West Alabama is to put a value on what’s been accomplished in last three years. If given the chance, I’ll be more action and less study.”

The celebration will take place from 1-5 p.m. on the Eutaw Town Square. The topic of Baxley’s speech will be “Celebrating Excellence in the Black Belt.”

For more information, call Tina Coggin at Lucy Baxley campaign headquarters at (334) 244-2181.