Baxley brings campaign to county
Published 12:00 am Friday, March 17, 2006
“God help us if we only see our state from those large white buildings on Capitol Hill.”
Those were the words of Lucy Baxley, lieutenant governor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate as she spoke to an early-morning crowd in Butler County Monday.
Baxley, a native of the Pansy community in Houston County, climbed aboard a Fleetwood coach emblazoned with “I Love Lucy” signs and headed south to share her platform, “A Campaign of Hope, a Commitment to Honesty.”
Her plan: to meet the “good country people” at stops throughout the southern part of the state.
Her first two stops were the south Butler County communities of Georgiana and McKenzie.
“I am so glad for this opportunity to speak to you today…I need your help and support in this governor's race,” Baxley told the crowd assembled at the L.A. Grill in Georgiana.
“I don't have the huge dollars behind me…in the past, I've won by good friends telling other good friends and passing on the message.”
Baxley stressed she only spent $1.5 million in the lieutenant governor's race in 2002, while Seigelman and Riley each spent $13.5 million in their race for governor.
“And I had 22,000 more votes than Riley and 25,000 more than Seigelman,” she said with a grin, adding, “Dollars and the will of the people are not necessarily the same thing.”
Baxley also said the hundreds of thousands of dollars given out for worthy projects by those in office shouldn't make citizens benefiting from those projects feel they are obligated to that person.
“After all, this is taxpayers' money, it's your money,” she told her audience.
The candidate said she had spent most of her adult life preparing herself for public service.
“I served two terms as the state treasurer and previously worked with the attorney general's office and the highway department. Then, you gave me the support to be the first women elected as lieutenant governor,” Baxley said.
“I have learned some valuable lessons on how to do the best we can with our limited resources in the state.”
Concerning campaign issues, the gubernatorial candidate said the education of Alabama's children was a major priority of her campaign.
“If you don't care about the human factor (in education), then you should care from an economic standpoint,” Baxley said.
“Either we prepare these children to make a living or we grow more problems within our correctional system with those who fall through the cracks.”
During her visits to the two towns, Baxley also urged those listening “not to be distracted by the glamour of the big industry announcements.”
“We've been very blessed to bring in some big-name industries, and I'm happy for us to come up with incentives for them, but we must not forget our small businesses,” she said.
“Don't let these big companies waffle on their commitment to the community – see that they live up to them.”
Baxley said Governor Riley had failed to live up to his commitment to end no-bid contracts in state government.
“They flourish just as much as ever, only now they are going to out-of-state companies…every contract is paid with taxpayers' monies, and they should be carefully monitored.”
Baxley said she would establish an office of inspector general to monitor such activity.
“We will never have all the money we need for the services we provide, so we must be caretakers and do the best we can with what we have.”
Calling healthcare for the elderly a “number one concern,” she described the confusion over Medicare Part D as “unconscionable” and a hardship for doctors, druggists and seniors, and said,
“Medicare Part D should not kick in until after all other carriers have paid.”
Baxley told those gathered at the Country Caf\u00E9 in McKenzie one of the biggest problems faced by candidates today “is the fact people don't trust those in public office.”
“Trust is something you have got to earn,” Baxley said.
The staunch Democrat said when she was growing up on a farm in Houston County, “I didn't know any Republicans. Maybe y'all might have had some over here.
“We didn't talk about religion, either. We were told you should hold it in such high reverence and not be like those Pharisees in the Bible,” Baxley said to a chorus of “amens.”
“Somewhere down the line the Republicans got hold of religion and said, ‘Well, those Democrats must not care about God'…well, I am proud to be a Democrat. Look at the words and deeds of Jesus – he was a liberal,” Baxley told her McKenzie audience.
The candidate assured those listening to her, “When you elect me, you've elected one of your own.”
She cautioned no one should vote for her solely because she is a woman, but suggested she might be the perfect candidate for the job.
“Lurleen Wallace was elected as what people saw as a stand-in for her husband. I'm nobody's stand-in,” Baxley said.
“In the Bible, they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness before a leader came to guide them. Well, it's been 40 years since Lurleen was elected,” the candidate quipped to audience laughter and applause.
Some local politicians seem ready to have a woman return to the highest office in the state.
Mayor Lynn Watson of Georgiana, who has known Baxley and her former husband, Bill, for several decades, described her as a “good person” and “a good friend to Georgiana and to Butler County.”
Mayor Betty Stinson of McKenzie said she had been watching Baxley's political career “ever since she got started.”
“It's wonderful to have her here. I feel like she is going to put on a real barn-storming show during this campaign,” Stinson said.
“I think it is time we had a woman as governor (again). I know what she's been through and she knows what I've been through…it's tough. But you just don't give up.”
In a one-on-one interview, the candidate said she stayed on top of her campaign game by setting aside a regular time for solitude and exercise.
“I'm a people person – I love meeting people. But I have to have that quiet time, too, to get re-energized,” Baxley said.
The candidate said she got started on a regular exercise program a year ago “and it really helps keep my energy levels up.”
She added, “When you are doing something you really love, I think it's not as taxing, either.”
Baxley, who claims Eleanor Roosevelt as one of her role models, said the rise of women in government has been somewhat different than once expected.
“People thought there would first be a woman president and then the lesser roles would begin to be filled.”
Instead, Baxley said, women have made a strong and positive impression on city councils, as mayors and in state offices.
“ Locally, people can see that person is going to church on Sunday, is caring for her family and her community. They know it first-hand, and they are impressed.”
Baxley continued her south Alabama campaign tour Monday with stops in Red Level, Opp and Andalusia.