Holden takes campaign to black residents in Cape

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Gov. Bob Holden arrived at a Baptist church in a predominantly black neighborhood Thursday to inspire Cape Girardeau Democrats to go to the polls for next Tuesday's primary election.

Holden is running against State Auditor Claire McCaskill.

In the audience were several of Cape Girardeau's more prominent black leaders, including pastors Johnny Thomas and David Allen, public office hopeful Deborah McBride and local civic activist Debra Mitchell-Braxton.

"The campaign is going very well," Holden told the audience. "The polls are there, we just need to make sure everyone gets out to vote."

Holden pounded home his platform of equal education for all children, affordable health care to all families and attracting jobs to the state.

He also touched on the fact that he has appointed several black men and women to prominent positions in government.

"I want Missouri to reflect the global community if it is going to be a part of it," he said.

The humble pews of the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church were half-filled with about 60 people. Several of the people in attendance asked questions, including the place of prayer in schools, education and social issues.

Farma Williamson, a volunteer mentor, asked about Holden's position on social programs. She said funding for the Family Resource Center had been cut and several programs have been eliminated.

She said the programs were geared at tutoring children, building confidence and helping youth set goals. The program has served as many as 64 children at a time, she said.

"These kids hear so much negative," she said. "We want to get them to a higher level."

But the money has dried up.

"What you need to do," Holden told her. "Is to help get me elected. Every vote counts."

Holden encouraged his supporters to go door-to-door, asking people to vote.

McBride, who is running for Cape Girardeau County public administrator, said she and her campaign committee are doing just that. She said less than 1 percent of the local black population votes.

"We've been going door-to-door, letting people know the importance of the primary election," she said. "So many people are interested in this election."

She said it was good to see the governor in Cape Girardeau. "We want to see the politicians," McBride said. "We want to hear them. It's very important. I think it's important for African-Americans that the voting polls are one of the few places where we are treated equally. Our vote counts just as much as the governor's vote or the president's vote. And we're teaching that."

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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