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This item originally appeared in the October 28, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.

By DAVID MURIMI

Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-Quitman) said while on campus that he does not think the government should throw out money irresponsibly, and people should come before politics.

Republican candidate Jock Scott visited the campus as well. The Tech Talk also obtained comments from Democratic candidate Zelma Blakes.

"If elected, I want to provide a hand, not a handout," Alexander said.

He spoke Oct. 21 in Robinson Hall about what he plans to do if he is re-elected to Congress and discussed his recent switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

"He set aside an hour of his time to come and speak with us, not to gain votes, but because he cares and is doing his job as a congressman," Lynsie Fielder, senior class senator and a senior speech major, said.

Alexander switched political parties Aug. 6, after first qualifying as a Democrat two days prior.

Alexander said he knows there has been controversy regarding his political party switch, and switching parties fractured some relationships with fellow colleagues.

"There are too many people fighting us to be fighting ourselves, and I felt I was defending myself too much within my own party," Alexander said.

Alexander said he supports the 5th District with passion.

Situations of poverty do not need to be there, Alexander said, and there are things that can be done.

"Imagine an 80 to 90-year-old sitting under a tree because her trailer is too hot and she can only go back at night," Alexander said.

He added, "There are children desperately wanting to comprehend what the teacher is saying in the classroom but they have a toothache or can't see very well."

Scott, (R-Alexandria) one of Alexander's challengers, said he would dedicate four staff members exclusively to the economic development needs of the District.

"There's been no office holder in history that's focused on the problems of the 5th Congressional District," Scott said. "I'd like to be the first one to do that."

Blakes, the only Democrat running for the 5th Congressional District seat, said her top priority will be finding ways to put a dent in the poverty that dominates many of the 5th District parishes.

"The poverty here affects everything else from the quality of our education to the quality of our health care," Blakes said.

Alexander said America is the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, and its people should not have these problems.

Fielder said Alexander never manipulates his district to win and is not about fake representation.

"Alexander will not fill your head with empty promises," Fielder said.

"He is 110 percent real, and I have never met a political figure so genuine and passionate."

Alexander encourages young people to vote and write letters to Congress.

"If you write something to Congress and put your own little personal touch on it, it will be read," he said.

Alexander said students need to write to Congress because their concerns and comments are important, and there is a need to know what students and young people are thinking.

"Regarding his political switch, it was a good decision because the Republican Party represents his beliefs and values more," Fielder said.

"His switch was a positive one, and he is [going] to represent the District with honor no matter what party he is."

Alexander said he was a Democrat for a long period in his life, and it was not easy to switch parties.

Alexander said, "I have been a conservative Democrat for the last 30 plus years, and it was the toughest decision I had ever made."

The Monroe News-Star contributed to this report.


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