Riley polling high

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 12, 2002

BNI Newswire

U.S. Rep. Bob Riley made his first trip to Shelby County on Saturday, looking to extend his lead over fellow GOP gubernatorial hopefuls.

Riley addressed the crowd assembled at Heardmont Park and pointed out his plans on changing how Alabama does business.

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"People have been telling me that we want you to bring back the same level of honesty and integrity to Montgomery that George Bush has brought back to the oval office," Riley said. "I’m going to Montgomery with one mission and one mission only – not to help my friends, not to have no bid contracts. The people who go to Montgomery have to want to make this a better state."

Riley said he is setting his sights on Gov. Don Siegelman rather than his Republican opponents.

"Steve Windom isn’t the problem, Tim James isn’t the problem, but Gov. Don Siegelman, that’s a different story," Riley said.

In a poll released by the Alabama Education Association (AEA), Riley appears to be pulling away from his two opponents. In the poll, James recorded 10 percent, while Windom registered 21 percent. While the undecided came in at 24 percent, Riley registered a tremendous lead at 45 percent.

Riley stated that he is the candidate who would best address education and transportation problems

across the state.

"I want to change the economic model, the education model, and the transportation model in the state," Riley said.

According to Riley overcrowding schools has been brought on by not allowing local control over school finances.

"When 91 cents out of every dollar for education is earmarked in Montgomery, something has to be fixed," he said. "Local schools just can’t do anything.

Every dollar is spent in Montgomery. The decision to buy books, buses, and to fix and build schools, that needs to be at the local level."

Riley said transportation problems addressed are a result of a poor statewide transportation model that he said is mismanaged.

"The DOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) is taking twice the amount of money they were ten years ago and where are we today," Riley said. "Until we change the politics of the system, we are going to get the same results."

Windom, who has made several campaign stops in Shelby County took part in a fishing tournament on Saturday morning at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham.

The event was a fundraiser for disabled children. James made an appearance in both Chilton and Shelby Counties on Friday.

A poll released last week by Marketing Research Institute, based upon an 800 voter sampling of Alabamians, shows Riley with a 10 percent lead over Windom and a 16 percent lead over James.