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Friday, June 5, 2009

State Rep. James Thomas Declares Candidacy for Sanders' Seat

State Rep. James Thomas, 65, announced Friday that he is running for the Alabama Senate next year. Thomas is a candidate in the 23rd Senate District, the seat being vacated by Sen. Hank Sanders, who announced his retirement this week.

"Both Senator Sanders and I have been fighting for the Black Belt for more than 20 years," Thomas said in a statement. "We have done good work together, but there is more to be done. I believe that we need someone with experience and dedication to serve as our state senator, and that is why I am running. I ask for your prayers and your vote in next June’s Democratic primary."

Thomas said the two most important issues facing the district are jobs and education, and they are two areas where the Wilcox Central High School principal says he has a proven track record.
"As a person who has dedicated his life to public schools, I know the importance of education. We need to keep the progress going that we’ve made in the past ten years. We need to fight for more resources, and to fund things that we know improve teaching and learning," Thomas said. "As our education improves, so does the economy of our region."

As a representative, Thomas said in a statement that he has worked in the state Legislature on economic efforts like the Hyundai plant, which brought jobs in its plant as well as employment from suppliers who have located in the region.

"Our traditional industries have been hard hit in this slumping economy. We need to look for other homegrown ways of economic development like biodiesel and other alternative energy efforts, as well as be on the constant lookout for other industries to locate in the Black Belt,"Thomas said. "And we need to look at things like entertainment and tourism to bring folks to our area and create jobs at home."

The 23rd Senate District is one of the largest and most rural in Alabama, encompassing all or parts of Dallas, Wilcox, Lowndes, Monroe, Conecuh, Clarke, Marengo, Perry and Autauga counties.

Thomas, who will be 66 this month, received his B.S. and M.A. from Alabama State University. He and his wife, Evelyn, are the parents of a daughter, Angela Carter. He also is a member of the First Missionary Baptist Church in White Hall, the Alabama and National Education Associations, and the Administrators Association. Thomas also serves as lifetime president emeritus of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks


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