Governor candidates address APA

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 9, 2006

Candidates running for governor were allowed to present their case for election during a forum Saturday hosted by the Alabama Press Association as part of their annual winter meeting.

Riley, addressing a crowd of approximately 100 Alabama editors and publishers, said you only need to look at where the state was three years ago to judge whether he should be reelected, which if happens would be the first two-term governor since George Wallace. Guy Hunt was elected for a second term but was removed from office in 1993 after being convicted of illegally using campaign and inaugural funds to pay personal debts.

&#8220Three years ago the state had lost 47,000 jobs and now we've almost gained 47,000 jobs,” Riley said. &#8220Alabama for all my life has been 48th, 49th and 50th in the categories that were good, and in the top ten in things that are bad.”

Riley said changing the model of how the state operates is what will make the difference, something he says his administration has done the past three years.

&#8220We revamped ADO (Alabama Development Office) and found the very best person we could find in Neal Wade to run it and today we've got more economic opportunities than any other state in the south or the nation,” Riley said.

Roy Moore, Riley's opponent in the June 6, primary did not attend the event due to a scheduling conflict.

Don Siegelman, who was narrowly defeated by Riley 2002, is scheduled for trial May 1, for alleged racketeering and bribery during his administration; something he said was a &#8220pathetic attempt to orchestrate the outcome of the 2006 elections.”

&#8220There is not one piece of evidence that says I put one penny in my own pocket,” said Siegelman of the case against him.

Siegelman said Riley, and the state, has benefited from the auto manufacturers and suppliers that were recruited to the state during his administration, but since Riley has been governor Alabama &#8220has missed opportunities with Honda, Toyota and Kia,” even going as far as saying when his administration recruited Hyundai to the state, the chairman of Hyundai told him &#8220after the Hyundai plant was built he was going to locate a Kia plant next to it with an additional 2,000 jobs.”

Published reports say Kia is expected to announce the location of its first North American assembly plant later this month at a site near West Point, Ga.

Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley says she wants to be the governor &#8220of the average everyday people,” and says incentives need to be given to new industries, but that existing industries need help too. She also hammered Bob Riley for pledging to do away with no-bid contracts during his 2002 campaign, something she said he continues to allow.

&#8220I am going to see that it's done right,” she said.

She also claimed the state is not divided by party lines, but by special interest groups who &#8220can kill any initiative they want.”

Two little known candidates shared the opportunity to make their case for governor during the forum as Nathan Mathis, a peanut farmer from Newton and Harry Lyon, an attorney from Pelham told media representatives that they deserved to be governor.

Mathis said he supported legalizing and taxing casino gambling as well as adopting a state lottery while Lyon built his platform around drug testing students in public and private schools as a way to curb juvenile crime. He also admitted to being a recovering drug addict himself, having become addicted to drugs prescribed by his doctor.