Clarke County residents meet new congressman

By Staff
INTRODUCTIONS U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., visits new constituents in Quitman on Monday. The visit was one of a series Taylor is making in areas newly designated to him after redistricting in Mississippi. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
April 2, 2002
QUITMAN Clarke County residents met their new congressman for the first time Monday and he assured them they are as important as the rest of his constituents.
U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor said he won't forget about Clarke County even though its biggest city, Quitman, is about 175 miles from his hometown of Bay St. Louis on the Mississippi Coast.
Taylor, a Democrat and former state senator, has been in Washington since 1989 representing South Mississippi and the 5th Congressional District.
When Mississippi lost one of its five congressional districts to redistricting this year, Taylor added new counties that were once part of other congressional districts.
NAFTA dominates talk
Clarke County previously had been part of the 3rd District and was represented by Republican Chip Pickering. Pickering, though, wasn't discussed at Taylor's meeting.
Instead, the hottest topics included the North America Free Trade Agreement and the closing of Stonewall's Burlington plant which had been the county's biggest employer.
Many local residents and elected officials have blamed NAFTA for the loss of the Burlington plant. The closing will leave about 800 residents without jobs.
Taylor, who also blamed NAFTA for the closing of the Stonewall plant, said he "voted against NAFTA. I argued against it. I warned that this would happen. And I regret that the majority didn't listen."
Workers could suffer
As a result, Taylor said, "a lot of single moms now have kids and no income. I think the real cruel lie in all of this was that new jobs would jump up and take their place.
After the meeting, Taylor promised to work as hard for the people in Clarke County as he does for people in other areas of his district.
He said everyone is important to him.
Asked if he thought Clarke County's needs could be lost among the needs of Coast counties, Taylor said that "the amazing thing is that the vast majority of Mississippians agree on a vast majority of issues."
Name: Gene Taylor
Age: 48.
Family: Married to Margaret Taylor.
Hometown: Bay St. Louis.
Education: Bachelor's degree, Tulane University.
Party affiliation: Democrat.
Political background: Former state senator, member of Congress since 1989.