"So when we go to Congress, we go together. And I'll take the community's wishes with me to Washington, D.C."
Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot (in center flanked by supporters), with a lot of energy and excitement, officially rolled out her campaign to become the first woman elected to represent Alabama in Congress with a bus tour through the 7th Congressional District.
*We've also relaunched our Smoot for Congress website
Smoot said she will focus on strong solutions to the various challenges people throughout AL-07 face. Her plans include improving health care and education, economic development and improving infrastructure both by building roads and increasing high-speed internet access.
The Bus Tour, which included dozens of supporters and a marching band, was part of a 12 county tour of 12 communities of which dates and times of future stops will be announced soon.
The "Smoot on Your Side" road to Congress tour started off with a rally at the site of the old Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma. This was Selma's only African American hospital during segregation, and the only place where injured civil rights protesters could get treatment in 1965. Unfortunately, Good Samaritan closed its doors in 1983. Smoot drew parallels to how she has fought to save Cooper Green hospital in Birmingham, which provides indigent health care. Health care disparity and quality of care will be a major issue in this campaign.
Despite inclement weather, the "Smoot on Your Side" Bus rolled on to Tuscaloosa where a lunchtime address was made to supporters at Old Capitol Park. There are over 70,000 AL-07 voters in Tuscaloosa County. Although Tuscaloosa County has the lowest unemployment rate of any county in AL-07, the need for more affordable senior housing exists as well as higher paying jobs.
After talking to supporters in Tuscaloosa, the "Smoot on Your Side" bus took a tour of Brighton and Lipscomb, Alabama where Commissioner Smoot pointed out all the development that occurred here in a short time. Smoot explained how a number of the roads were paved while she was chairman of the County Roads and Transportation committee. The trip ended with a rally and reception at the Oak Park Villas in the Lipscomb Community. This senior housing complex provides 40 housing units designed to be affordable for poorer residents. The complex was finished in 2006 because of Commissioner Smoot being able to secure funding from U.S HUD, Jefferson County HOME Funds and low income tax-credits from Alabama Finance Authority and Housing Enterprise of Central Alabama, Inc.
Why this election matters
AL-07 lies in the heart of the Black Belt region known for its rich civil rights history and its current abject poverty. For example, Wilcox County has a 22% unemployment rate. Several counties have poverty rates over 20%. Access to health care is limited and many people lack health insurance all together. Affordable senior housing is scarce.
While a number of candidates have thrown their hat in the ring and said how they want to address these issues, Shelia Smoot has already accomplished results in poor parts of her County Commission district seen for example in the construction of the Oak Park Villas. She has also has fought to keep open the indigent care facility. She is a fighter and someone who is an energetic campaigner. She is also someone with name recognition going back to her days as an investigative journalist who focused on consumer issues.
Of course we would also appreciate any donations and continued interest in this race.