In his second bid to become the 7th Congressional District Republican GOP nominee to face Democrat Terri Sewell in the General Election this fall, Don Chamberlain, speaking to the Tuscaloosa Republican Women at Hotel Capstone on Thursday, said "the 7th Congressional District of Alabama, according to the 2010 census, lost over 80,000 citizens in the twelve county district during the past 10 years. That's equivalent to loosing every man, woman, and child presently living today in Dallas, Perry and Green counties combined."
Those of us remaining in the 7th District might be prompted to ask the question, where have our neighbors gone? Why did they leave?
When you consider, statistically, the 7th District of Alabama is recognized, "nationally", as one of the poorest districts in the country with nearly a quarter of a million of our citizens living below the poverty line with over 50,000 unemployed and can't find work anywhere, you begin to understand why so many in this area may have left.
The "gradualism" of the decline in our "economic and social state of being" has been consistent over the past 10 years, and especially in the last 3 years. We are now seeing record numbers of our citizens forced to seek governmental assistance in one form or another. Presently, citizens needing the very basics of necessities, like food, has now exceeded over 125,000 with residents forced to receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) government subsidies and another 25,000 having to rely on WIC (Women, Infants and Children) government subsidies in order to survive.
These statistics, combined with the last ten years people have left in numbers representing practically three counties in this district could raise these questions:
Is the current Congressional representative in the 7th District voicing the specific needs of its citizens in Washington? Have businesses been looking to grow and expand in the District to make employment opportunities for the citizens? Is the education system producing the type of people and employees a business would be proud or eager to hire in the 7th Congressional District?
If the answer to any of these questions is "yes" -- I believe it is likely the District wouldn't be losing residents in such alarming numbers as was the case in the last decade. It wouldn't be the lowest income district in the country. It wouldn't have to guess or imagine the potential growth of the local economy, speculate on the increased number of good-paying jobs available to residents, and wonder about the positive impact that could have been made if it had not lost the talents and contributions of those that moved away to other areas.
Voters in the 7th District have every right to question: Why has the locally elected leadership failed? Are they actively working to help create opportunities so each and every citizen can pursue the "American dream"? Are they just trying to keep the voters pacified while they crutch on a district that has become too weakened and too weary to take action?
The 7th Congressional District has reached a valley that serves as an example, to the nation, of what happens when Washington dictates how a district is drawn and deploy Washington driven democratic political power to rule over it for an extended period of time.
It could be argued that the 7th District is now serving as an example, to the rest of the nation, of the potential downfalls aided by poor leadership in Washington. The district has become a showcase, to the rest of the nation, of what can happen when allowing principles of "hope and change" to guide the actions of leadership from Washington rather than focusing on local government leadership working to help formulate concrete platforms like education and creating jobs for the people in the 7th District of Alabama.
Based on the lack of progress, the currently elected officials will certainly be challenged to defend the policies, philosophies and voting records the Democratic Party has maintained the past thirty years in the 7th Congressional District.
Don Chamberlain is encouraging voters to ask themselves:
After ten years of the District moving backwards, are voters ready for someone who will help voice the real issues to Washington? Is the 7th District ready to elect someone who will work to improve the local conditions so our children get a good education in order to become productive members of our work force? Will the voters in the 7th District support a candidate that will help be a catalyst to create jobs and opportunities for the local economy? Does the 7th District want to be represented by someone who will promote local economic growth and break the reliance on Washington?
Mr. Chamberlain went on to say "If "Guts and Gasoline' are the only two resources we have left to combat a trend I believe represents a danger to the future of country, rest assured that even though my Lincoln has 358,000 miles on it -- it still runs great and is ready to go and at the ripe old age of 65, so am I".
For more information about Don Chamberlain, visit www.donchamberlain.me.