CCF hosts candidate forum

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 2, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

The Coalition of Concerned Families (CCF) hosted an open political forum Thursday evening at the Larry D. Striplin Performing Arts Center.

State House Representative District 67 candidates Rosie Callen and Raji Gourdine, Dallas County Sheriff candidate Lee Green and County Probate Judge candidate Kobi Little were present to discuss their campaign platforms and take questions from the audience.

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CCF Founder and President Angela Benjamin stressed CCF’s mission is to “encourage, educate and empower” residents to make informed decisions come June 6.

Candidates were allotted three minutes to introduce themselves and an additional three minutes to answer questions from the audience. Forum moderator was CCF Vice President Jasmine Pritchett.

Callen was the first candidate to take the floor. A real estate agent for 18 years, Callen said the time has come for a representative to make a difference in the Black Belt region.

“If you want change, you’re looking at the lady who can get the job done,” she said.

If elected, Callen will work to pass bills that will benefit Dallas County and surrounding areas, thus leading to a plethora of new jobs and educational opportunities. Callen wants to see more Alabama products on Alabama store shelves and assist residents who wish to become homeowners – “the American dream,” she says.

Callen’s opponent, 38-year-old Gourdine, says he is young enough to identify with the youth population he hopes to represent, but old enough to discern community issues. A former social worker, educator and grant writer, Gourdine has raised $5 million for Wallace Community College Selma programs. Gourdine seeks to create more new and innovative programs like Selma Early College High School and stressed he wants to help all Dallas County residents. A Selma resident since 1992, Gourdine is angered by the “absolute poverty” of some Dallas Countians and informed the audience he has their best interests at heart.

When asked if there would be a Selma headquarters for constituents to voice concerns to their state representative, Gourdine said he does intend to have a central location in the Queen City to keep the lines of communication open.

“Constituents should be able to contact someone on a regular basis,” he said.

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Added Callen, “It’s not good for God to give us wisdom and we don’t share it. We need to make people aware of what’s going on.”

Both candidates said they do not know who would run the local headquarters, but Gourdine said it will be someone he trusts.

Born and raised in Dallas County, Green guaranteed an increase of patrol cars on the streets and an increase in female deputies if elected sheriff.

“We need female deputies to deal with female cases in the county,” he said.

Green believes every citizen and inmate of Dallas County deserves to be treated fairly. He said there is no need for residents to worry about someone breaking into their homes at night and inmates should be held sanitary jail because “inmates are still somebody’s baby.”

In his bid for Probate Judge, Little re-iterated the three words that have spearheaded his campaign – vision, leadership and opportunity. Citizens must “see things as they are and see things as they can be,” he said.

Little has placed a strong emphasis on boosting technology in Dallas County and seeks to move the county forward by creating tech centers to teach citizens basic skills for job opportunities. The centers will also serve as “incubators” for budding small businesses.

Little said the community must work together to incite change and must rid itself of divisions by race, geography and city and county government.

In closing, Benjamin thanked the audience for attending and encouraged them to learn about the candidates that were not present at the forum.

Polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m.