District 11 candidates express similar stances during forum

By GINNY COOPER / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA—Both candidates in the running for the Alabama Senate District 11 seat attended a forum sponsored by the Shelby County Reporter, the Shelby County Republican Party and the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce May 20 at Shelby County High School.

Incumbent state Senator Jerry Fielding and Dr. Jim McClendon expressed similar stances on many issues, including budget issues, Medicaid expansion and Common Core.

Fielding and McClendon agreed the most pressing issue facing the state currently is budget issues.

“The general fund budget is in big trouble,” McClendon said.

Fielding cited the growing amount of money the state spends on both Medicaid and the prison system as part of the problem, and said the state “cannot continue to escalate that.”

Both candidates also agreed with the importance of Medicaid, but noted resources as a primary concern for expanding the current system.

“We have a serious problem keeping up with what we’re obligated to do,” McClendon said.

“I’m all for expanding Medicaid,” Fielding said, but cited a concern with expanding the system too quickly.

“I’m afraid if we went too fast we might have issues in that regard,” Fielding said.

When asked their views on Common Core, both candidates agreed the curriculum must be modified.

“There is such a gap in understanding between Common Core and parents,” McClendon said. “Something has got to be done.”

“I’m not for Common Core as it exists at this time,” Fielding said, and said Alabama students should be “above standard.”

Fielding and McClendon also stressed their open availability to the public.

“I’m accessible at all times,” Fielding said, and welcomed constituents to call, email or visit his office in Montgomery any time.

McClendon handed out promotional material with his cell phone number printed on the front.

“I welcome your calls, give me a ring,” he said.