Recently Karlos Finley a partner at BF&W and a candidate for House District 97 sat down with Reggie Copeland, Jr. of the South Alabama Trial Lawyers Association for an interview about his ongoing campaign for the open seat in House District 97.
KFF: The overwhelming issues facing the citizens of our district are jobs and education. These issues are so interrelated its impossible to talk about one without the other. In order for our city grow in a healthy way, we must address economic development. Jobs and education are the key to this issue. We are all hoping for a bright future with Airbus coming to Brookley Field. I would like to also see some of the tier one and tier two suppliers located in some of the abandoned buildings on the north side of Downtown. There is good ingress and egress to these locations and the businesses would create jobs in our district as well as throughout Mobile. Also, that would help to rid the area of abandoned dilapidated properties. Bishop State Community College and Brookley Field Aviation College are excellent institutions for training skilled trades persons to fill the positions created by the new industry.
RC: In addition to the above issue or problem, what other issues and concerns did the people and business owners in House District 97 bring to your attention and what do you think can be done regarding those other issues?
KFF: In that the HD 97 is such a diverse district, there are many important issues facing us. Environmental issues such as water quality in the north and south of the district are important issues. The Dog River Watershed and the Three Mile and One Mile Creeks have pollution problems that need to be addressed. I attended a meeting of the Dog River Clearwater Revival and learned that they are testing a litter trap in order to catch debris running off into the river. There is a need to educate the people in our community and make them aware that many of the ditches and creeks that run throughout the city drain into the Dog River. As for the Three Mile and One Mile Creeks, there are environmental concerns with erosion to the cap that covers the old Hickory Street landfill/dump. This is an issue that must have continued monitoring. There is also the Mobile Gas, “Tar pit” located at the corner of MLK Ave. and Broad St. The area is fenced off, but we need in depth investigations in the nature of what contaminations are present there. Homeowners insurance has been an issue that many constituents have voiced major concerns about. I would urge all homeowners to take note of the recently passed Clarity Law and discuss it with their State Representative. Progress has been made in the area of insurance reform, but there is still a lot of work to do to make sure coverage is affordable and beneficial. Public safety is a real concern in the district. There are issues within some areas of the district regarding prostitution, drug infestation, theft and home invasions just to name a few. In response to these issues, I would like to work with community leaders to engage law enforcement to have more officers patrolling on foot and bicycles. This will foster a greater interaction and stronger relationships between patrol officers and residents in the community. Finally, the blighted properties across the district are also a significant problem. This issue encompasses both businesses and residential. This is a matter I would like to work with municipal and county officials to remedy. We could explore raising the minimum standards of the condition a property must be kept in.Because of my experience in so many different areas, I believe as a representative of House District 97 I can help address these issues.
RC: A recent national poll showed that only about 25% of eligible voters participate in Statewide or local elections on a regular basis. Is this an important issue to you and what can be done to encourage more people to participate in the election process?
KFF: This is a very important issue to me! People have died and been maimed in order for our citizens to have the right to vote. I think the biggest thing that can be done to help is for public servants to act in ways that will restore confidence in the leadership. People want to feel that they can make a difference. We also need to educate our youth on the sacrifices that have been made for this right. For this reason, I have been a member of the League of Women Voters for the last three years. This organization does a tremendous amount of work toward educating the public regarding the election process as well as who the candidates are. We work from a non-partisan perspective in order to reach as many people as possible and try to help engage them in the political process. Each year League members come together for a strategic planning meeting in order to frame how we will address issues for the coming year. Greater participation in organizations like this will be an integral part of increasing voter participation.