"We want to make the office of Congress to be much more proactive than what it has been," said Artur Davis, elected in November to represent the 7th Congressional district of Alabama.
"Proactive" is how Congressman-elect Davis describes his strategy. Elected Nov. 5, Davis said when Congress convenes in 2003, economic development and equal funding for schools will top his agenda.
"We can't talk about local control of these schools without empowering the schools," Davis said. "We're going to be supporting and introducing legislation early in the next term that will provide incentives for the state to equalize their funding structures for between rich and poor school districts."
With the employment rate in west Alabama almost double the state and national average of just over five percent, Davis said he also hopes to develop plans to attract more automobile parts suppliers to the region.
"Going to work for an automobile plant means a different thing in 2002 than it meant in 1972. We have to get the workforce ready to do 21st century work," Davis said. "We need job training programs and we need to put vocational education back into our schools. We need it adequately funded and we need to make it a priority."
In the near future, Davis said he would open three offices within the Black Belt region: Sumter County, Tuscaloosa, and Selma.
As for political leaders in the area, they say they're optimistic about Davis' plans.
"I feel that he is a committed person and I feel that he will do everything in his power to bring about economic prosperity for this community," says Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele.
"Problems won't get solved overnight but what people want is to see a congressman that is working for progress and that's what I will do," Davis said.