Siegelman gives good advice for Black Belt

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 19, 2002

If it really had to come from the horse’s mouth, then the horse has spoken. If we needed prompting to ensure the continued progress of our community, then we have been prompted.

Outgoing Gov. Don Siegelman grew to love our region of the state. He spent many a car ride thinking about ways to pull Alabama’s Black Belt out from its own depression. He made many a speech promising our citizens that we’d flourish from our poverty.

A few days ago, Siegelman sat down with The Times-Journal for an interview. He talked about his accomplishments over the past four years, and he talked about new programs that will continue to affect our region for years to come.

Siegelman also touched on the next four years for this area, and he offered advice on ways we can continue to have an impact on the Governor’s mansion.

The outgoing governor didn’t say that letters from school children would help that much – though they couldn’t hurt. He didn’t say businesses needed to send weekly e-mails to Montgomery concerning the status of our community.

Rather, Siegelman pointed to one group of leaders in his moment of advice.

“It takes your elected officials banning together,” Siegelman said. “You have to take a Black Belt delegation, and fill up the Capitol auditorium with city council members, county commissioners, economic development leaders, mayors and legislators…”

The advice seems pretty clear: If we want to have an impact on policy decisions in Montgomery, then our politicians have to be the ones making trips to Montgomery and planning meetings with Gov.-elect Bob Riley.

Here’s the problem: Every political leader in Alabama’s Black Belt knows there is a need to make contact with the new administration. And because there are so many people who understand our plight, each political leader will think someone else is going to be the first to step forward.

Putting together a team of politicians doesn’t necessarily have to be a selfish enterprise. At the same time, though, wouldn’t it be great if someone from Dallas County were the first to step forward and organize a group that will take care of the needs of our citizens?

We encourage, even challenge, our leaders to step forward. Create an organization that will knock on Riley’s door. Set up a meeting of politicians throughout this area. Come up with a strategic plan to keep our community on the Montgomery map.