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How long has Terri Sewell been running on progressive ideas?

by: mooncat

Sat Jun 19, 2010 at 22:32:55 PM CDT

Terri Sewell - Progressive!As long as we've been keeping track, that's how long Terri Sewell has been running on progressive ideas.

Here's the latest talking point from Sewell's detractors: "Terri Sewell didn't start supporting progressive issues until AFTER her Ivy League buddy and soon to be ex SD 7 Congressman Artur Davis went down in flames for not supporting progressive issues ..."

OK, I'm beyond disgusted at the way some so-called Democrats act like a good education disqualifies a person from public office -- surely those aren't our values? -- and I don't know what "SD 7" means either.  But let's get to the substance of this complaint, the allegation that Terri Sewell isn't progressive and has modified her positions since June 1.


It's simply not true, as with so many things people try to tell us in the silly season of political campaigns.  The ADC and AEA are backing Shelia Smoot these days, so maybe this argument shouldn't come as a surprise, but recycling the anti-Davis gameplan won't work against Terri Sewell because she's been progressive since day one.  In fact, her enthusiastic support for health care reform legislation is probably the reason she beat all comers on June 1.  Follow me below the fold for supporting information.

mooncat :: How long has Terri Sewell been running on progressive ideas?

On March 5th of this year, Terri Sewell told the Downtown Democrats, "I will go to Congress and make sure that health care gets passed.  A comprehensive health care bill that includes a public option."  She was the only AL-07 candidate that day who unambiguously came out in support of a public option for health care reform.  Her slogan of "Health care should be a right, not a fight" was a major piece of her primary campaign and very likely the reason her candidacy has been so successful.  

Also on March 5th, Sewell said:

"I understand what the issues are ... it's about job creation, it's the number one issue."  

And ...

"Education I believe is the best economic plan ever devised - a good education."

And ...

"It should not be that the quality of the health care that you receive is dependent upon your zip code.  But that is true.  In 2010 in America, and in Alabama, and it's unacceptable."

Those are progressive points, but Sewell didn't stop the progressivism there.  When we interviewed her a few weeks later, Terri Sewell said, "The number one issue in the 7th Congressional District is exactly the number one issue for my parents' generation ... and that's job creation.  Job creation has to be our number one priority," and then laid out a credible plan for bringing those jobs to the 7th CD.  And here's what she told us when asked about other progressive issues:

Health Care - While the recently passed bill was not perfect, Ms. Sewell says was a step in the right direction.  "Health care should be a right for all Americans ...  Health care should be about a right and not a fight."  She believes that competition is needed to bring down costs and a "robust public option needs to be back on the table."  She vows to push to keep that public option on the table if elected. 

Equal Pay -  Ms. Sewell says that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was just one step, but there is more work to be done to guarantee equal pay for equal work.  "I grew up in a family of workers and I know that this state and this nation has been built on the backs of working class families who deserve to have good benefits, who deserve to have the right to unionize if they want to unionize." [Sewell has also been endorsed by Fair Pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter.]

Reproductive Choice"I believe that a woman's reproductive decisions should be made between herself and her doctor ... I would fight to continue to have the legal protections that are afforded women in Roe v. Wade.  And I would fight any erosion of that."

Gay Marriage - "I believe it's a civil rights, human rights issue.  And I believe that in 2010 that we should not discriminate against any group of people in this nation."

Financial Reform - "I would be an advocate for transparency and accountability on Wall Street.  It's critically important.  ...  I would be all for and, in fact, because I understand it, would be a leading advocate of developing legislation that would provide transparency for Wall Street and financial services industries as well as accountability.  It is, to me, disheartening that the very people that got us into this situation, we've bailed out, and they've given those same fat cats huge bonuses when we in Main Street are suffering each and every day."

At the DFA social in July 2009, Sewell said (terrible video quality at that link) "We need strong, positive leadership. We need ethical, strong, positive progressive voices and that's what this campaign will be about. I know that we share a common vision, which is to see Alabama move forward."

These are progressive positions, and they're coming from a woman who is smart, accomplished and has no ethical cloud hanging over her.  Terri Sewell has been progressive on the issues since the first time I saw her -- anyone trying to tell you she's reinvented herself since June 1 is simply not paying attention ... or is outright lying. 

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Some people will make up anything ... (4.00 / 1)
And this time they've made up something so contrary to observable reality that I doubt many voters will be taken in.  Still, it's important to set the record straight.

Work harder and work smarter!

Thanks for posting that, Mooncat.... (4.00 / 2)

It's good to see someone with truly progressive ideals running in the 7th.

"This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. This is about the whole system being against us." - an Occupy protester at Obama's Des Moines office.

I think she truly does have progressive ideals (4.00 / 1)
And what she says is what she believes.  Terri Sewell is good on the issues, she's run a positive campaign and she's a smart, accomplished woman.  What's not to like, there?  And if there are some who don't like her in spite of all those things, I wish they'd confine their criticism to the realm of reality instead of just making sh*t up.

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
I don't have a problem with anything she says (4.00 / 1)
It sounds great - I think all candidates had great messages

But I do think its fair to look at her past. That's certainly being done of Shelia Smoot and her being a Jefferson County Commissioner. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

I think it's fair to point out that in 2002 Terri Sewell was donating to  a Republican running for Congress in New Jersey.
So how long has she been really been a progressive?

I don't think Sewell or Smoot are differing a whole lot in what they are saying. But I do think that Smoot was talking about jobs, health care, education and infrastructure since she entered the race.

On the other hand, I remember Sewell talking about ethics reform when she first got into the race. Nothing wrong with that, but it seems her message has changed and evolved which is great.  

Ethics IS a progressive issue (4.00 / 1)

And I'm really tired of people who imply it isn't.  Dirty government isn't ever going to be responsive to the people.  In March at the Downtown Democrats, Terri Sewell said:

"We need someone who will zealously advocate on behalf of all of us.  I am that person. We need leadership that's ethical.  We need leadership that understands fiscal responsiblity and accountability.  We need leadership that will listen."

Yes, we do need leadership that's ethical.  The Birmingham area particularly needs leadership that's ethical because they've had precious little of that in the past decade, or more.  Smoot would have done well to champion ethical leadership from her position on the Jefferson County Commission since 2002.  This is from a Kyle Whitmire article late last year:

That might explain why one current commissioner, Shelia Smoot, and two investment banks she directed business to are not defendants in the county’s lawsuit. The SEC lawsuit alleges that JPMorgan directed bogus fees to two firms, Gardnyr Michael and ABI Capital, at Smoot’s insistence. Both firms hired a close friend of Smoot as a so-called consultant.

How and when will that mess be sorted out?  Democrats ought to own the issue of ethics and clean government.

Both these women have been talking about jobs, health care, infrastructure and so forth for months, the question is, which one will be more effective in Congress at finding solutions?  Smoot hears about those issues from people who call her radio show, so sure she understands that's what people care about, but is she best equipped to address those issues in Washington on behalf of the 7th CD? 

I don't think so. Shelia Smoot would be loud, and we'd hear a lot about the problems, but I don't think she has the temperment or background to send opportunities back to Alabama.  Congress would be a bigger stage for Smoot, but she'd still need the show to be about her.

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
making ethics the number one issue (0.00 / 0)

doesn't bring jobs to Alabama 7th CD, it doesn't bring infrastructure to Alabama 7th CD Everyone is for ethics reform. What about Wall Street and financial regulation? With Sewell's ties to Wall Street and financial institutions, where will she stand? Sewell championing ethics reform, in my opinion, was just a way of taking shots at Smoot last year. Don't just rely on an article by Kyle Whitmire. Come on now. You are better than that. Check out the response from Smoot

" Smoot, elected in 2002, wasn't charged in Monday's SEC civil lawsuitand hasn't been named in any of the criminal cases surrounding thecounty's $3.2 billion sewer debt.

But the SEC relied on Smootfor evidence it has laid out against two JPMor­gan Chase & Co.bankers, who are the defendants in the suit.

The suit saysSmoot called banker Charles Le­Croy in July 2003 and de­manded moremoney for two Alabama investment banks from JPMorgan's share of countyswap fees. Parkman said no such con­versation ever happened, and thatthe SEC relied on a wiretapped phone call Le­Croy made to an associateduring which he said Smoot hit him up for more money.

"This iscoming from a convicted criminal," Parkman said, referring to LeCroy'sguilty plea in an earlier corruption case in Pennsylvania. "They haveno evidence of it, no phone records, no documents."

Parkman said he asked SEC lawyers at Smoot's de­position to furnish such proof, and they didn't.

"Shelia Smoot only met Charles LeCroy one time and wouldn't recognize him if he walked up to her on the street," Parkman said.

Also, Parkman said, the SEC should remember that Smoot in 2002 sued herown commission in Jefferson County Circuit Court to block a pendingbond sale, saying it violated state laws on open bidding for govern­ment

And yes, Terri Sewell has been involved in Jefferson County Bond Deals .

Representative Transactions: Bond Counsel, $41,580,000 Educational Building Authority of the City of Tuscaloosa, Revenue Bonds (Stillman College Project), Series 2007. Bond Counsel, $4,445,000 Lake Martin Area Industrial Development Authority, Industrial Revenue Bonds, Series 2007. Bond Counsel, $1,210,000 Town of Eclectic, General Obligation Refunding Warrants, Series 2007. Bond Counsel, $86,745,000 Jefferson County Public Building Authority, Lease Revenue Warrants, Series 2006. Bond Counsel, $41,810,000 Alabama State University, General Tuition and Fee Revenue Bonds, Series 2006. Bond Counsel, $3,555,000 Dallas County Water and Sewer Authority, Revenue Bonds, Series 2006. Bond Counsel, $35,000,000 Private Colleges and Universities Facilities Authority, Tuskegee University Project, Tax-Exempt Revenue Bonds, Series 2006. Bond and Disclosure Counsel, $9,000,000 State Board of Education of State of Alabama, Wallace State Community College Hanceville, Revenue Bonds, Series 2005. Bond and Disclosure Counsel, $4,690,000 City of Moody, Alabama, General Obligation Refunding Warrants, Series 2005. Bond and Disclosure Counsel, $2,630,000 City of Elba, Alabama, General Obligation Warrants, Series 2005.Underwriters Counsel, $400,000,000 Jefferson County, Alabama, Limited Obligation School Warrants, Series 2005-A & Series 2005. Underwriters Counsel, $650,000,000 Jefferson County, Alabama, Limited Obligation School Warrants, Series 2004-A.
Yes I think Smoot is much more equipped to handle Congress. She's done more than talk about what she would do. We know she has built new schools in Jefferson County, she's gotten more Community Block development grant money for her district, she's built senior housing and she's been a champion for indigent health care (Cooper Green)

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I know Shelia Smoot hasn't been charged (0.00 / 0)

I also know the feds don't like to drop indictments near elections, which worries the hell out of me.  I'm not asking candidates to always make ethics their top campaign priority, but it ought to be a constant and present part of their character -- and there should be zero tolerance for public corruption.  Last I looked Alabama rated #6 in public corruption and that should be unacceptable to any progressive.

Kyle Whitmire is a damned good journalist, but thank you for providing Smoot's response.

You may have missed this in our interview with Terri Sewell back in April, but we asked her about financial reform and she gave a great progressive answer.  A partial transcript is in the main post above and there's video at the link (also above.)  She made it quite clear that regulatory reform is needed, that she would push for transparency and accountability on Wall Street and that her understanding of the current system is a plus when it comes to pushing for better regulations.  I specifically asked her about "too big to fail" and she said the country can't afford to have institutions like that, who can count on being bailed out by taxpayers over and over again.  Sewell was quite passionate about the need for an overhaul of financial regulations and, given that she does understand it from the inside, I think there's no question she would be on the progressive side of any financial reform legislation.

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
of course that's what she's going to say (0.00 / 0)
Davis talked about health care for years, but then he voted against the health care reform bill because of his own personal interest and agenda.

There were always rumblings about Davis being out of touch with the district's needs and desires. i.e. : hate crime bill, bankruptcy bill

Parker Griffith understood health care and the inner workings of that field and look where it got the residents of AL-05.  

[ Parent ]
I thought we were talking about Terri Sewell (0.00 / 0)

And you wanted to know what she had to say about financial regulation and/or reform.

When I pointed you to what she said -- a progressive answer and, honestly, pretty much what any reasonable person would be expected to say -- you say "of course that's what she's going to say."  I don't know if that means "of course she's progressive on this issue," or "of course I'm not going to believe anything she says," but if it's the latter I wonder why you even bothered to pretend you were interested in Sewell's stated position.  Let alone why you're suddenly talking about Artur Davis and Parker Griffith -- two men who have almost nothing in common, particular as regards character.

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
a minor quibble.... (4.00 / 1)

"gay marriage" is a bit of a loaded term.  Friends active in the GBLT community prefer "marriage equality."

Because that makes the case better that it's a simple issue of treating all adults equally.  Which it is!

I admit to not following the AL-07 race closely at all because AL-05 was so full of drama and villains.  But I was impressed by both Sewell and Hilliard when they spoke at the OTM Dems last year.  And I'm afraid my status as a Jefferson County sewer bond holder really colors my opinion of Smoot - perhaps unfairly, so I want to acknowledge it. 

And the shouting of "ON YOUR SIDE! ON YOUR SIDE!" over and over while pointing at the audience when I saw her at the Downtown Democrats meeting just left me cold. I found out later that the context was some TV spots she did for a local station, but still.... It seemed contrived to me.

The runoff in this race is going to be really interesting.  Will AEA & ADC members turn out to vote against Byrne in the GOP runoff or will they support Smoot in the Democratic runoff?  That could make a big difference in the race.

There's a LOT of animosity towards Byrne.

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith

My bad. (4.00 / 1)

"Gay marriage" was the terminology I used in asking the question.

As for "Shelia Smoot is On Your Side," that's the name of her call in radio show on WAGG.  She also did a series called "Six on Your Side" at WBRC 6.

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
No dog in this fight. (4.00 / 1)

I wish I had a chance to vote for either of these women to be my Congresswoman, but I am stuck the worthless Jo Bonner - again- a fact I blame on Joe Turnham.

I am disappointed in the level of apparent animosity being whipped up in this race.  I don't understand the allegations being leveled at Terri Sewell, as I have seen no change in her stances since I became aware of her a year or so ago.

I am especially disappointed that my friend GradyW seems to be suggesting that ethics reform is not a Progressive issue.  Does he suggest it is a GOP talking point?  Does he suggest we wait for the GOP to support ethics in government?  No thanks, I'd rather hold my breath until Hell freezes over.

As to the crack about "her Ivy League Buddy", no, mooncat, that was not said by a Progressive; not even by a Democrat.  It couldn't be because Democrats respect excellence in education - we would even like to see some of it available locally. That must be a quote from an angry, anti-education Republican, perhaps in Progressive clothing.

Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten. Cree Nation Tribal Prophecy

Thank you, Piggieheart! (0.00 / 0)

I was starting to worry my pro-education, pro-smart government, pro-ethical conduct Democratic friends had all gone to the beach to bathe birds.

BTW, I hope your Father's Day was special.

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
I never said it wasn't a progressive issue (4.00 / 1)
What I'm saying is that people in this district need to hear about jobs, health care, education and infrastructure.

Ethics reform is a no-brainer.  

[ Parent ]
Sewell has been talking about jobs, health care, education & infrastructure (0.00 / 0)

Plus ethics.  What does Shelia Smoot say about ethics?  She should have a great perspective on it if she's been fighting the good fight on the JeffCo Commission.

IMHO, Ethics Reform may be a no brainer, but Alabama Democrats have been damned slow to embrace it.  I will refrain from connecting those two dots.

Work harder and work smarter!

[ Parent ]
My two main gripes about Sewell.... (0.00 / 0)

She has used (and not in the altruistic way) her parents and their ties to the Civil Rights movement, their personal accomplishments and the Selma community to further her campaign, in order to prove her chops.  There are also the "I am from Selma, but not of Selma" comments by her, reported by more than one source of my own.  There is also her reinventing herself as a "Public Finance" attorney, when in fact that was/is only a small portion of who she has represented.  Hilliard and Smoot didn't get Labor nods so much because they were true blue friends of Labor.  Labor ran from Sewell because she is a corporate attorney representing the interests of management, not the working Alabamian.

My second point of contention with her has to do with a piece on her resume, that despite her mothers ties to education in the area, hurts area educators.  She claims to be instrumental in getting the group Teach for America to place its teachers in Blackbelt school districts. Teach for America seeks to place recent college grads with no teaching experience in low income school districts.  The last place where unexperienced teachers are needed.  The students teach for two years, and at the end move on.  Well, that's all well and good, except that during the last 3 years education here in Alabama has been hit hard by budget cuts and yeah, there are more than a few unemployed teachers in the area.  

Teach for America and ostensibly Sewell were able to secure 30 positions over the next three years to Teach for America grads.  That represents about 10 teaching positions a year, and if those were filled by local teachers, would represent a fiscal impact of $350,000 per year.  After two years, where is that TfA grad going to go?  I doubt they will be staying here.

If Sewell wanted to prove her progressive chops she would be talking about real education reform, contributing to ending the constant attacks on public educators by conservatives and the private sector.  Education is what is going to save or sink the Blackbelt and CD-7, one could talk until they are blue in the face about everything else, but if we do not have a robust public education system, jobs will continue to go elsewhere. 

9.13, 4.82, Just left of Gandhi.



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