District 69 candidates square off over jobs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2002

Both candidates who are currently in the runoff for the House District 69 seat agree that the most important issue in that race is jobs.

Incumbent James Thomas, who finished with 43 percent of the vote, will face Glen McCord, who received 30 percent of the vote, to decide who will rule over the seat that contains Autauga, Lowndes, Wilcox and Dallas Counties, counties which are considered to be some of the poorest in the state.

Both Thomas and McCord said that with a new $1 billion Hyundai plant to be built Hope Hull, the prospects for new jobs in the four counties are there, especially with the possibility of suppliers for the plant locating near the Hope Hull area.

“I am very optimistic about bringing those jobs to our district,”

said Thomas, who has occupied the District 69 seat for the past 20 years. “We are actively working with the governor’s office and the Alabama Development Office to recruit tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers to our four counties.”

McCord similarly said that Hyundai was also an extremely important issue on his campaign agenda.

“Right now, we have the people here and we have the infrastructure in place to be ready for Hyundai,” McCord said. “With Wallace College, we do have the ability to train people for new jobs. The only thing we are lacking right now is proper leadership, something which I hope to bring to our district.”

McCord said that he hoped to improve the four counties economically, something he criticized Thomas for not having done during his time in office.

“I have heard reports comparing counties in our district to Third World countries,” McCord said. “This is something that really needs to change. I think after 20 years it’s finally time to pass the torch on to somebody else.”

McCord specifically referred to the problems experienced by residents in Lowndes County in obtaining proper septic tanks, while also discussing high unemployment rates in all four counties.

Thomas also commented on the septic tank problem.

“Health is a major issue here, and we will be focusing on making sure that we have proper septic tanks” in Lowndes County, Thomas said. “It is something that is an important part of our campaign.”

Besides health and jobs, Thomas, who is also the principal at Wilcox Central High School, said he would also focus heavily on education.

“Education has always been the most important thing to me, and will continue to be in this campaign,” Thomas said.