Emerson, Sowers campaign at SEMO Labor Picnic

Monday, August 30, 2010

On Sunday, organizers of the SEMO Labor Picnic welcomed around 500 people to Cape County Park North where Southeast Missouri union members and their families feasted on grilled food and enjoyed some friendly competition.

JJ Lane, picnic chairman and business agent for the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, said the labor picnic has been a success since its inception in 2007. At least 400 people have attended each year.

"It's 100 percent family friendly," Lane said. "I think that's what's great about it."

While adults socialized and enjoyed a washer tournament, children participated in a fishing tournament and took on the identities of a princess, The Hulk and Superman at a face-painting booth near the picnic area.

Although the picnic gives laborers an afternoon of relaxation, it also gives them an opportunity to give back to the community through a raffle. Since 2007, the SEMO Labor Picnic has raised more than $7,000. Funds have been donated to United Way of Southeast Missouri, Toys For Tots and the Missouri Veteran's Home.

While the picnic isn't a political event, a number of campaigning politicians from Southeast Missouri -- including U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., and Democratic challenger Tommy Sowers -- made an appearance at the park Sunday.

Emerson and Sowers face Libertarian Rick Vandeven and independent Larry Bill in the 8th Congressional District election in November.

"We like having them here," Lane said. "We want them to see us here as a unified group of people."

Both Sowers and Emerson have spent much of their summer traveling the 28 counties of the 8th District, hearing the concerns of residents.

"Now what's interesting is when I meet people, like most of the people here, I've met before," Sowers said. "They've heard of me now. It's been going great."

Emerson also expressed the successes she's had campaigning, but both candidates agreed residents' main concerns revolve around the economy and jobs.

A lot of Missourians are feeling uneasy, Emerson said, and uncertain about the financial impact of the new health care legislation.

"There's no issue more important than getting the economy rolling again," Emerson said. "There are a lot of things we can do to promote job creation, but as I said the most important thing is bringing certainty to all those entrepreneurs and small business people who have the money to expand."

Emerson said she's in Cape Girardeau and the surrounding area for about two more weeks before heading back to Washington D.C. Emerson was also in town Sunday for a ribbon cutting at the headquarters of the Cape Girardeau Republican Central Committee. Sowers said he'll continue his "Boots on the Ground" campaign and his tour of the district until Election Day.

"There's a lot more miles and thousands more hands to shake," he said.

ehevern@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

2400 County Park Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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