The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Point of view of Alabama Mayor Cochair for McCain, Mayor Sheldon Day

Posted on October 06, 2008 at 03:15 PM

Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville, Alabama has conveyed to the regional Delta Grassroots Caucus organization that based on personal communications with Sen. John McCain, he believes the Senator has a strong concern for the economic plight of communities in our region like Thomasville, Selma, New Orleans and many other places in the region he has visited. The Delta Caucus has previously received extensive feedback from the Obama campaign and its supporters, and this information from McCain supporters is conveyed to give them an additional opportunity to weigh in on regional economic issues.

Mayor Day is Alabama Mayoral Cochair for the McCain campaign. At Mayor Day’s invitation, Sen. McCain took the time to travel to Thomasville, Selma and other communities in the Alabama Black Belt, and he took an entire day to view the economic problems of the people there. The Thomasville mayor said, “I discussed in person with Sen. McCain the needs of rural areas and small towns in our region, and he was clearly concerned and sympathetic to the idea that areas like ours deserve more attention and that funding among all the regions of America should be allocated based on needs and priorities, and not politics.”

Lee Powell, Caucus director, said “Mayor Day is the Alabama coordinator for the Delta Caucus and is also a member of the executive committee, and we appreciate his leadership in bringing the problems of the Delta to Sen. McCain personally. His views carry great weight with our organization, and our partners should consider his views along with those we have received from Sen. Obama, who has endorsed a policy of fairness in funding the regional commissions, and also pledged to work for a major increase in funding for the Delta Regional Authority.”

The Delta Caucus will not endorse any Presidential candidate, but urges all of them to devote more attention to the economic plight of this impoverished region. This statement from Mayor Day is conveyed as part of the continuing effort to focus attention on the region’s needs, because he is a veteran partner of the Delta Caucus, and he has communicated in person with one of the candidates.

We have previously conveyed extensive feedback from prominent Obama supporters, such as Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, and others.

Mayor Day has long been an advocate of bringing about a policy of fairness among the regional commissions. Currently, the Appalachian Regional Commission receives almost $500 million annually from several appropriations sources, the Denali Commission serving part of Alaska gets $110 million from several funding sources, and in contrast, the Delta Regional Authority gets a total of only $23 million from several appropriations sources to serve more than nine million people in the eight state Greater Delta Region. “I rode with Sen. McCain all day on the bus as we toured the Alabama Black Belt, and he was very receptive to my comments about the need to treat all the regions fairly and to show more interest from the national government for the economic needs of rural areas and small towns across the South and the rest of the country.”

Powell said “While we have been trying to get more feedback from McCain supporters and the campaign for eight months or so and did receive some, we did get a lot more from other Presidential candidates. That fact having been stated, we appreciate this constructive commentary from Mayor Day, who is co-chair of the Alabama mayoral committee for the McCain campaign, and now is the time to emphasize our determination to work with whoever wins the Presidency, rather than which candidate responded at an earlier time. Any criticism we gave any of the candidates was intended to be constructive criticism as a spur to action, and we should commend rather than criticize people who respond well to constructive criticism.”

“Mayor Day is a completely reliable source and a strong advocate for the region. We would construe this communication as meaning that as President, John McCain would take a serious look at evening up the disparity in funding among the regional commissions. We wish both candidates well,” Powell said.

Other Delta Caucus partners appreciated McCain for spending substantial time in places like Thomasville, Selma, New Orleans and Little Rock. Harvey Joe Sanner of Des Arc, Arkansas, agriculture adviser to the Caucus, said “Rural America and in particular production agriculture appreciates John McCain and all other presidential candidates who visit the Delta. There is so much that needs to be done in this region and if political office seekers can spend some time here and can see firsthand that progress can be made if we have a good partnership with the federal government. We are grateful for the time Senator McCain spent in this area.”

Powell said “McCain spending so much time in the region provides a sharp contrast to some other politicians. For example, Sen. John Edwards promoted a so-called ‘poverty tour’ of the Delta last year, but his visit to Helena-West Helena, Arkansas consisted of 16 minutes, and his dialogue about the poverty of that community with its mayor consisted of a photo op and a handshake.”

Mayor Bobby Hardrick of Madison, Arkansas said “We will work with whoever is the next President, whether that is Barack Obama or John McCain–for the good of the region. While my area in St. Francis County, Arkansas has not fared well under the last eight years of the Bush administration, the problems go back decades, and we need to look forward. I appreciate Mayor Day’s positive feedback and we look forward to working with him and other McCain supporters in the event that McCain is our next President, and likewise with Obama supporters.”

“We know Sen. Obama has also visited New Orleans, Selma, southeast Missouri and other areas, and we appreciate that and call on him to visit Arkansas as well,” said Powell.