Rep. Randall Shedd speaks to an early-morning crowd at the Baileyton Senior Center on Saturday, July 15, 2017. / Andrew Cryer
BAILEYTON – Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview hosted a community meeting recently for his constituents in District 11. The gathering was hosted by the Town of Baileyton at the Baileyton Senior Center, organized by Shedd as a way to hear directly from citizens and to discuss his recent appointment as chairman of the new House Standing Committee on Urban and Rural Development, a panel that will focus its attention on combatting pockets of poverty that exist across the state by addressing issues like broadband access, infrastructure and other factors contributing to impoverished areas.
Baileyton Mayor Johnny Dyar shared, “I cannot express how important meetings like this are. It brings our community together for a common goal.”
Many local leaders were on-hand to hear what Shedd had to say, including community activist Ron Stone, other mayors and council members from across District 11, county commissioners and Cullman County Sherriff Matt Gentry.
“The importance of our meeting here today is what has already happened, where I can visit with you, listen to you and your ideas,” Shedd told the crowd. About how the structure of the rural and urban development committee will be different than other committees in Montgomery, he said, “We’re going to have three subcommittees. This committee is researching and working to find out what we can do to address the deficiencies in development across the state. We’re going to have an urban development committee, a rural development committee and a poverty prevention and reduction committee.”
Some have questioned why a development committee is handling poverty, but Shedd put it quite clearly, saying, “We cannot afford poverty in Alabama any longer. We have to do something about it. It’s the root cause of our prison overpopulation and it causes our Medicaid rolls to be more than what the state can afford. Those two items take the majority of our general fund budget… we just can’t afford poverty.”
Shedd said that trying to reduce poverty doesn’t necessarily mean more government, “We’re going to focus on what is the problem, what is the cause and we’re going to focus on prevention.”
About what his appointment means for his district, he said, “The important thing about a committee chair in the House of Representatives is that it puts us at the table. It puts you at the table when the decision is being made.”
Shedd says he wants to hear from citizens directly, and not just those who live in District 11. “If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my political career, it is that the best ideas that I’ve had come from you—the people that I represent. I’m asking you to think about it. I’m asking you to think about any issues that need to be addressed.”
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