Gary Palmer has a novel idea

Gary Palmer
Gary Palmer, 6th District Congressional candidate

I was talking with a good friend before the 6th Congressional Runoff Debate at Regions Field between Paul DeMarco and Gary Palmer.

I told him Cliff Sims, the publisher of Yellowhammer and one of the panelists, had solicited questions for the debate on the Internet.

I suggested Cliff ask about the lack of economic development and job growth in metropolitan Birmingham.

My friend told me my question wasn’t appropriate since local job growth is not the concern of a Congressman.

I obviously disagreed  and was pleased to get a quick response from Sims saying he would add my question to his list.

Here’s what he asked:

“The last couple of years there have been a lot of big economic development projects come to the state.  You’ve got Airbus down in South Alabama.  We hear about Remington up in Huntsville.  There hasn’t been a lot of activity in the 6th District.  What specifically could you do as our Congressman to get some of these big economic development projects to locate here in the 6th district”

DeMarco responded about his help in bringing employment training to the State, but Palmer went off in a different direction:

“What we need to do is to get the entire district working together.  I’ve gone around and met with Mayor’s all over the district and I’ve told them I’m going to host a quarterly lunch.  I’m not going to run the meeting—I’m going to facilitate it.  And I’m going to get these guys together working with business leaders, working with each other.  And I told them we’re going to find out two things.  One, you can work together–we’re not a bunch of independent little municipalities that can’t get along.  And you’re going to find out that you like each other.  I will be the guy who will bring a Congressional office we’ve never seen before that will be the center of economic leadership.”

Palmer said  during the debate if elected he would live in Birmingham and commute to Washington–saying he didn’t want to lose touch with his constituents. DeMarco has indicated all along he would continue to live here.

I have no idea if commuting to Washington is practical. And I have serious doubts whether he can get our Mayors to work together, but if he wants to use the power, prestige, and influence of his office to jump start economic development locally—I’m all for it .

Of course, if Palmer wants to incorporate most of the African-American population of our region including much of Birmingham in his efforts he will have to convince U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell from District 7 and her Mayors to join him.  As usual, our government segmentation–usually along racial lines–makes things more difficult.

Let’s face it, DeMarco or Palmer will be one of only 435 representatives in Congress and the chance of either one of them making a significant difference nationally is not great–particularly if you consider that on the major Republican issues like guns, right to life, or taxes, their votes will likely be the same.

So the fact that Palmer has a novel idea to stay involved in our community is quite appealing.  I’m sure Republican Representative Eric Canter who was soundly beaten in his primary in Virginia wishes he had paid closer attention to his district.

One thing is clear, however, Palmer understands and has stated–that if we keep acting like a ‘bunch of independent little municipalities who don’t like one another’–Birmingham’s economic future will likely remain limited.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising Agency and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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6 thoughts on “Gary Palmer has a novel idea”

  1. David,

    I enjoyed the article.  I’m not committed to either Mr. Palmer or Mr. DeMarco.  I am glad that you raised the issue.  

    While your skepticism as to the likelihood of agreement may be justified by past actions, until some group decides to get together to find common ground (which I am convinced does exist), the deadlock continues.  

    We currently have what I call a “silo” mentality in which folks on both sides gather and see issues as us versus them.  We must break out of that mindset and meeting together could be a start. A push by a Congressman might help.

    Rick

  2. David, this is an interesting article. What I find truly interesting is Mr. Palmer answered it in a debate. I live in Helena and I have never met Mr. Palmer nor I am I aware of his every coming here. Mr. DeMarco, on the other had has visited Helena at least nine time. On one occasion he attended a meeting of our local Helena Business Association where he spoke to the group and promised to return.

    On another occasion he visited our local Farmers Market and spoke to everyone there.

    That indicates to me that he will be active in local communities in our district.

  3. *David,  I  am puzzled that you would highlight this item to demonstrate a bias for Palmer.You have selected the  attribute that characterizes DeMarco, not Palmer. Anyone who knows DeMarco knows that for the past eight years, at least, he has met with, worked with, and effectively responded to the needs and issues of the numerous communities, towns and cities of this region. No one has a better working relationship with the local leaders than DeMarco. He has proven this through his actions for years instead of merely talking about it as you highlighted.

    1. E.A. thanks for your note. My primary goal with http://www.Comebacktown.com is to create a conversaton about better government for our region. We are struggling economically in metroplitan Birmingham and will continue to struggle until we change our government structure. I seized on a Palmer comment that spelled one of our weaknesses–37 mayors in Jefferson County. It’s interesting that you thought it was a pro Palmer piece because others have accused me of being skeptical of Palmer’s ideas and being anti-Palmer. I’m just ready for a brave politician to take a stand for a better metropolitan Birmingham and Palmer certainly did that during the debate.

  4. As individuals, I like both of these candidates, but I think its unfair for Mr Stickland to paint Gary Palmer as unconcerned for the people of our region. Gary has worked tirelessly for the last 24 years as president of the Alabama Policy Institute, advocating and promoting many innovative ideas to benefit the entire state – not just Homewood and Hoover. Yes, Paul DeMarco has been involved in local politics for the last 5 years, but Gary has been doing this for 24 years with a vision much larger than one or two communities. Thats the problem with our region. Too many people only care about their little part of the world and not the entire region. 

    Gary has come and spoken to our group twice in the last several years and his API staff have come once, as well. Gary has worked hard for our state for a quarter of a century and has networked with most of the states in the nation, to advocate for programs and policies that benefit real people all across the country. Yes, it will be hrd for any one individual to make a difference in congress… but Gary already has a national reputation with legislators across the country and in Washington. He is known and respected, and knows how to get things done. The learning curve will be short and his ability to make an impact will be much quicker than a rookie.

    I want someone with real experience and estblished networks to represent me in Washington. And I love his idea to bring the mayors together. As a US Congressman, he will have the clout and respect to make that happen – the mayors will (out of respect) at least agree to attend a meeting. I think he is right that many, if not all, will realize that we can agree on things that benefit the common good. That would be a fantastic start to making things happen in central Alabama. We are SO far behind our peer cities (they are no longer our peer cities anymore)… its time to stop whining and start doing something!

    I’m voting for Gary Palmer.

  5. *  MR. PALMER’S “NOVEL IDEA” TO GET ELECTED OFFICIALS IN

       JEFFERSON COUNTY’S 35 CITIES OF ALL SIZES TO WORK TOGETHER

       IN PROMOTING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS ATTRACTIVE AT FIRST

        BUT IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN CONVERSATION. WHAT’S HIS PLAN?

        HIS STRATEGY? I BELIEVE MR. DEMARCO’S EXPERIENCE AS A STATE

         LEGISLATOR, WORKING IN THE GRIND OF DEBATE AND  COMPROMISE,

         BETTER QUALIFIES HIM TO HELP BUILD A TRUE SPIRIT OF REGIONAL   

        COOPERATION  IN JEFFERSON COUNTY. IT’S TIME TO FOLLOW PRESIDENT

         LINCOLN’S ADVICE: “UNITED WE STAND – DIVIDED WE FALL”. I BELIEVE

          PAUL DEMARCO WILL SEIZE THE MOMENT AS A CONGRESSMAN TO 

         UNITE US FOR THE GOOD OF ALL. HE HAS A PRAYERFUL SPIRIT THAT

         WILL GUIDE HIM TO THAT UNDERSTANDING.

        

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