Lanita Kharel of AIDS Alabama speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at Government Plaza in Mobile, Ala. Kharel is part of a newly formed group called “Just Mobile” which plans to focus on progressive issues during the 2017 city elections. (John Sharpemail@example.com).
More than half of new diagnoses of HIV occurred in the South in 2015, and it has advocates scrambling for solutions.
Lanita Kharel of AIDS Alabama South, thinks politicians should pay more attention and provide local support for their activities. If not, she said Tuesday, they contribute to a “raging fire in the Deep South.”
“We have to vote for people who care about the community at the ground level,” Kharel said.
She was one of several speakers during a news conference Tuesday introducing a progressive-leaning group of advocates who are part of a new “Just Mobile” group.
The group’s aim isn’t to endorse specific candidates, but to hone in on issues and make sure candidates for Mobile city office in 2017 address them. The group plans to be active through the 2018 campaigns.
“Tell me when was the last time a political campaign addressed the community issues you cared about?” said Herndon Inge, an attorney in Mobile. “For years, these needs have been unmet and we are here to talk about addressing needs of every citizen.”
The group’s agenda includes a focuses on seven issues: economics (living wages and non-discriminatory workplaces), environmental protection for all neighborhoods, improved law enforcement, equitable education funding, health care accessibility for the poor, immigration, and a city budget focusing on social and economic programs.
Inge emphasized that group wasn’t formed to defeat Mayor Sandy Stimpson in the Aug. 20 municipal election, even if the group’s name sounds like an alternative to mayor’s “One Mobile” campaign slogan. Stimpson is being challenged by former Mayor Sam Jones, Donavette Ely and Anthony Thompson.
Instead, Inge said the group’s aim is to focus on issues only.
But some the criticism from the speakers was directed at Stimpson’s administration. Kharel said her group’s funding was zeroed out in recent years as the Stimpson’s administration stepped away from utilizing city money to help fund non-profit groups.
Ramsey Sprague, with the Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition, said that his group hasn’t been able to speak with the administration about its concerns. Frank Barragan, with Immigrant Justice, said he also has been unable to express his own concerns to the administration.
Stimpson’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Inge said the ideas from Just Mobile applied to all city candidates for office. “It’s our tax dollars we collect and should come back to the community,” he said. “The people … should get equitable slices of the pie.”
Sen. John McCain arrives on Capitol Hill as the Senate was to vote on moving head on health care with the goal of erasing much of Barack Obama’s law. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
In this Nov. 15, 2016 file photo, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., arrives at Trump Tower in New York. As one of President-elect Donald Trump’s closest and most consistent allies, Sessions is a likely pick for a top post in his administration. But the last time Sessions faced Senate confirmation it didn’t go well. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)