By Minority Leader Rep. Craig Ford
Gadsden’s representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Robert Aderholt, was recently chosen as the National Association of Development Organizations’ Legislator of the Year. In the article announcing the award, Congressman Aderholt said he was honored to receive an award from an organization dedicated to growing communities.
The irony in all this is mind blowing! Just weeks after the congressman tell constituents and the press that there’s nothing he can do to help with the I-759 extension-a project that would certainly grow Gadsden and Etowah county-and the congressman receives this award? Why is Congressman Aderholt being honored as one of the top community advocates his own community desperately needs him and he is nowhere to be found?
Whether it’s the failure to take action on the I-759 extension, the loss of so many textile factories in DeKalb County or the loss of jobs throughout our district, the one thing Congressman Aderholt is not doing is growing our community.
Instead of really trying to help his community, the very community that sent him to Washington to be our voice, he’s hiding and trying to shift the responsibility solely to the state and local governments.
There’s a word for congressman’s claims that he’s done everything he can for Gadsden, and that the I-759 project is out of his hands. That word is “hogwash.”
Congressman Aderholt is a senior member on the House Appropriations Committee-the committee that decides where out federal tax dollars are spent! And even if he couldn’t secure the funding, he is still a congressman. He should be coordinating between local, state and federal agencies to get the project through the approval process. Nobody could have more influence with federal agencies than our own congressman!
So if Congressman Aderholt really wants to grow communities he should start here in his home district! Claiming there’s nothing he can do is just not true, and is an insult to the intelligence of the people he represents.
In the article, the congressman was quoted as saying, “Local development organizations play a vital role in creating economic growth and economic opportunity. Whether it’s working to make sure that all levels of government stay on the same page, assisting communities in grant preparation, or developing a regional plan to ensure long-term growth, NADO organizations make a tangible difference every day of the year.”
I agree that these organizations are essential to the process. But in this statement (as he is accepting this award) he is once again putting the burden and responsibility on others. When will Congressman Aderholt admit he has to play a part in this project if it is going to work? When will Congressman Aderholt accept at least some responsibility?
When you choose to run for office, you are volunteering to be a part of the team that speaks for your community. That team includes local, state and federal elected officials. Congressman Aderholt signed up to be a part of the team when he chose to run for office. Now he is essentially saying he wants to sit out of the game.
When Tom Bevill was our congressman, he was always a part of the team. Congressman Bevill did great things for our district. If Congressman Aderholt did just 10 percent of what Tom Bevill did for us, our community would truly grow!
Congressman Aderholt is the only member at any level of government representing Etowah County that isn’t on the same page when it comes to I-759. Congressman Aderholt is the only member of the team who’s not working to help push the project along. Instead, he wants to shift the responsibility to the local government, the state government and local development organizations.
Let me be clear: only Congressman Aderholt can secure federal funds. For him to say he can’t do anything-especially when he is a senior member of the committee that writes the budget-is absolute hogwash! Sen. Richard Shelby has been a champion for our state in Washington, D.C. Sen. Shelby has secured millions of dollars over the years for infrastructure projects like I-759. And with Congresswoman Roby from Montgomery also sitting on the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Aderholt should have no trouble making the case for Gadsden and the I-759 project.
It’s nice that our congressman has gotten an award for helping grow local communities. But now he needs to earn it! It’s time for Congressman Aderholt to step up and do his part for the team.