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Has Skippy White run his course?

By By Tray Smith
For a Democrat, Skippy White is fairly supportive of the Governor's agenda. He is not as supportive as a Republican would be, but he is more supportive than most of the other Democrats are. The problem with White, however, is that I never see him doing anything for your district.
That was the sentiment expressed to me by a leading political operative in Montgomery who follows the work of the state legislature very closely. And that is the sentiment several area voters have expressed to me over the course of this election cycle, which has seen White challenged by Republican Alan Baker for the District 66 State House seat.
In the interest of fairness, I will say that White was at one time no doubt a dedicated state representative. But after 24 years in the Alabama State House, we should expect more from him than a couple of bridges named after himself. We should expect a dedicated delegate who stays informed with his constituents, involved in his district's communities and active in the legislature. Unfortunately, White has not fulfilled any of these expectations during his latest term representing District 66.
That is if you can say White has been representing our district at all. He missed the ENTIRE legislative session in 2003 and he was absent for most of the 2004 session. Oftentimes, when he actually did show up, White stayed around just long enough to have himself counted present before leaving without voting on important state issues. In his own defense, White has had several health-related issues that have prevented him from conducting all of his legislative duties. But why must our district suffer because White has health problems? Why must our district suffer because White refuses to accept the fact that he is no longer capable of being an active member of the Alabama State House?
This article is not a personal attack against White. After interviewing him this past summer, I found that he is a very admirable person. But over his long career of public service, White has allowed himself to become exhibit A of why term limits are so desperately needed for state legislators. As an incumbent, he has become detached from the needs of the people and he has begun to view his office as a job, not as a privilege. If you don't agree with me just ask yourself, when was the last time White had a town hall meeting to discuss the needs of Atmore? For that matter, before this pivotal election year, how often did White even visit Atmore?
Fortunately for area residents, Republican challenger Alan Baker is offering voters the chance to make a change this year, becoming the first person to run against White since 1998. A former school teacher, football and track coach and a longtime resident of Escambia County, Baker is running on a platform of active, energetic representation in order to secure more funds for education, infrastructure and economic development in our district. He has also endorsed Gov. Riley, who has put forward a plan calling for dramatic tax cuts, systematic education reform and increased investments in school construction. While the Democratic Party has consistently bombarded Baker with false accusations (such as he wont support education-even though he was a teacher for 28 years), Baker has run a positive campaign focusing on what we can do to take advantage of the amazing opportunities opening up in this area. (i.e. Rivercane.)
This election is not about political ideology, so liberals should not oppose Baker simply because he is a Republican. Subjects such as abortion, gay marriage and gun control will be decided at the federal level. This election is about whether we want to be represented or want to spend the next four years wondering whether our district representative is showing up to vote and work for us.
You be the judge. White or Baker. To ensure your vote is heard, show up at the polls Tuesday.
That is the bottom line.
On another note, I am now revising my predictions for the upcoming election. While Baker and Gov. Riley will likely win, so long as their supporters turn out, I now believe that the GOP will lose 13-17 House seats and four Senate seats. There's only 72 hours left until we will find out. I will be speaking on this subject Tuesday morning at 7:15 a.m. on WNSI 105.9.
Tray Smith is a sophomore at ECHS and former intern in the Riley administration. He can be reached for comment at tsmith_90@hotmail.com.