GOP candidates visit
The soaring temperatures along with humid conditions this weekend may have kept some inside next to the air conditioner, but it didn’t stop the three Republican candidates for governor from making appeareances in Shelby County.
Tim James, a Greenville businessman, Lt. Gov. Steve Windom of Mobile, and United States Rep. Bob Riley of Ashland all made campaign stops in the county within a 24-hour period this weekend.
James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, made stops in Pelham, Calera and Columbiana on Friday.
the first campiagn stops for James in the county, were a part, he said, of the Tim James Small Town Tour of Alabama.
James walked up and down Main Street in Columbiana Friday morning, asking questions of residents and requesting their support in the Republican primary which is June 4.
&uot;Hi. I’m Tim James and I’m running for Governor of Alabama,&uot; James said as he shook hands with local resident Terry Davis in front of Davis Drug in Columbiana.
In an interview with the Shelby County Reporter, James said, if elected, he plans to address many issues including education and transportation.
&uot;Over $200 million was spent last year in Alabama on noneducation items as a part of the education budget. I happen to think buying books and toilet paper for our schools is a lot more important than that,&uot; James said.
He said, though, too much money remains in the hands of the Legislature and the governor.
&uot;Almost all of our problems&045;jobs, health, the economy can be traced to our poor public education system. You want to fix a failing school system?&uot; he asked. &uot;You get rid of the person at the top. You have to release centralized power from Mongomery&uot;
On the issue of transportation, James said trimming the payroll of the Alabama Department of Transportation would be a start to adressing overcrowding roads across Shelby County and other metropolitan areas.
&uot;They have a $2 billion budget and $250 million of that is set aside for management. Where is that spent? Three-thousand people are on the payroll, and $100 million goes to consulting fees,&uot; James said. &uot;Government means payroll and we are talking a lot of money that could be going to road and bridge construction.&uot;
Regarding other issues, James said he is opposed to a constitutional rewrite and has vowed to never raise statewide taxes.
Riley’s visit to North Shelby County on Saturday was his first campaign stop in the county as well.
Riley spoke to a crowd of about 150 residents at Heardmont Park.
The event included an Uncle Sam impersonator, a band, food, and several women dressed as Southern belles.
Riley said, if elected, he will clean up Montgomery just as he said President George Bush has cleaned up Washington, D.C. politics.
&uot;People have been telling me that we want you to bring back the same level of honesty and integrity to Montgomery that George Bush has brought back to the oval office,&uot; Riley said to the crowd.
&uot;I’m going to Montgomery with one mission and one mission only-not to help my friends, not to have no-bid contracts. The people who go to Montgomery have to want to make this a better state.&uot;
Riley said he is setting his sights on Gov. Don Siegelman rather than his Republican opponents.
&uot;Steve Windom isn’t the problem, Tim James isn’t the problem, but Gov. Don Siegelman, that’s a different story,&uot; Riley said.
In an interview with the Reporter, Riley stated that he is the candidate who would best address education and transportation problems in Shelby County and across the state of Alabama.
&uot;I want to change the economic model, the education model, and the transportation model in the state,&uot; Riley said.
He said overcrowding schools in Shelby County are the direct result of not allowing local control over school finances.
&uot;When 91 cents out of every dollar for education is earmarked in Montgomery, something has to be fixed,&uot; he said. &uot;Local schools just can’t do anything.
&uot;Every dollar is spent in Montgomery. The decision to buy books, buses, and to fix and build schools, that needs to be at the local level.&uot;
Riley said Shelby County’s transportation problems are a direct result of a poor statewide transportation model that he said is mismanaged.
&uot;The DOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) is taking twice the amount of money they were ten years ago and where are we today,&uot; Riley said.
&uot;Until we change the politics of the system, we are going to get the same results.&uot;
Windom, who has made several campaign stops in Shelby County covered by the Reporter, took part in a fishing tournament on Saturday morning at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham.
The event was a fundraiser for disabled children.
A poll released last week by Marketing Research Institute, based upon an 800 voter sampling of Alabamians, shows Riley with a 10 percent lead over Windom and a 16 percent lead over James