Democratic Congressional candidate speaks to Cape NAACP

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The economic hardships endured by poorer residents of the 8th Congressional District are "unacceptable in this day and age," Democratic Congressional candidate Tommy Sowers told the Cape Girardeau NAACP on Saturday evening.

Sowers spoke at the civil rights organizations membership and awards banquet at the University Center. In an address that lasted about 10 minutes, Sowers noted both the extent of poverty in the 28-county district and one small effort being made to combat the problems it creates.

The district is the 10th poorest in the nation of 435 Congressional districts, he said. And in Dunklin County, weekly food collections are used in at least one school to send children home with food on Friday to make sure they eat over the weekend, he said.

"I am not saying I have all the answers," Sowers said. "I want to join you you in your fight for a better future."

Sowers is one of three announced candidates challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a Cape Girardeau Republican. He is the best-funded Democrat to seek the seat in more than a decade.

The awards banquet was attended by about 50 people, marking another step in the revival of the local chapter of the century-old organization. Deborah Young, president of the chapter, said she's proud that the effort to rebuild the organization is succeeding.

"I am overjoyed, I am overwhelmed and I am happy," she said. "How grateful I am that individuals are beginning to stand up for their rights in Cape Girardeau County."

The chapter gave five awards Saturday night. The Youth Leadership Award was presented to Quitman McBride. William Bird Sr. was recognized for becoming the first black to be elected to the Cape Girardeau Board of Education. Louise Duncan received an award for community involvement; she has been an NAACP member since 1951. Diane Singleton received an award recognizing her 17 years as a teacher, and Tajuan Parish, owner of Umpkins Beauty Supply, was recognized for her business achievements.

Emerson was also invited to speak Saturday night, Young said.

Sowers, 32, was in the U.S. Army for 11 years, ending his career as a major. He is a lecturer on American government at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo.

Sowers gave few specifics in his remarks Saturday. He has been criticized by some for being vague about issues early in the campaign.

Critics would knock him if he had started the campaign with detailed, 14-point programs on every issue, Sowers said.

His specific positions will be guided by what he hears from constituents as he travels, he said. "My approach to this is the same was I approached a new situation in the Army. I go in, get the facts, talk to people and make a deliberate, educated plan rather than a hasty decision," he said.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

Cape Girardeau, Mo.

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