Perkins launches bid for congressional seat

Published 12:31 am Saturday, May 23, 2009

Surrounded by family, friends and well-wishers, former Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. launched his bid for the 7th District congressional seat on the steps of the Federal Courthouse in Selma Friday.

“I fully recognize the challenges ahead,” Perkins told a crowd of about 60 people. “I understand that since the most recent formation of the 7th District lines, this congressional seat is occupied by a resident of Jefferson County. However, I believe the citizens of the 7th District, all 12 counties representing the district from Jefferson to Sumter to Tuscaloosa to Dallas will feel my heart, will see my passion and will appreciate my service record of integrity, persistence and teamwork. I believe the people and I will connect in the spirit of service.

Seventh District Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, has opted to run for the governor’s position, which is an open seat because term limits do not allow incumbent Gov. Bob Riley to seek re-election. Davis’ bid for the state office leaves the District 7 seat open.

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Perkins said education, economic development, infrastructure development and healthcare are major issues in the district.

“We’re going to approach that by looking at where we are as opposed to where the rest of the nation is and then begin the process of doing things that will close that gap,” he said.

“We don’t need to study the problems anymore.It’s time now to begin working on the solutions. So we’re going to be going across this District 7 and talking to people about their solution ideas. And then we are going to build our platform based on what the people say,” the candidate added.

Perkins reviewed his qualifications during his announcement, saying he served on the board of directors for the Birmingham-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and Dallas County’s economic development team. He also has been a member of the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Planning Commission, the Coosa Alabama River Improvement Association, president of the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors, and president of the National Conference of Black Mayors, among other organizations.

Perkins served two terms as Selma’s mayor. He was defeated last year by George Evans, the former president of the city council.

When reminded of the defeat on Friday, Perkins said, “Well, Abraham Lincoln lost. President Barack Obama lost, so James Perkins can lose, too. The question is not how many times I was knocked down. The question is whether I got back up.”

During his last bid for public office, Perkins was supported by Davis. They are friends. Perkins said he does not expect support from the congressman in this race.

“I recognize that the congressman is running for governor of the state of Alabama. A friend of the congressman would not ask him to endorse him under those conditions,” Perkins said. “The congressman and I have worked closely together throughout this district and throughout this state. Our relationship is solid.”