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Marengo County Commission Listens to Their Community

As the country seems to distrust national political figures, it is easy to assume the stance that “politicians are in it for themselves.”

Listening and observing this week’s Marengo County Commission meeting, I learned that local politics is the purest example of American democracy.

Chairman Fred Armstead called the meeting to order Tuesday morning. A representative of a local waste disposal company discussed the solid waste disposal plan. Commissioner England asked questions concerning the cost to citizens for transporting local waste to Washington County.

The next order of business on the agenda concerned vacating a dirt road in the Surginer community. Charlie Bradford and two of his neighbors would be affected by the closing road and came to petition about the decision. They had acquired 50 signatures that opposed closing the road

The pleas of the citizens moved Commissioner Martin into action. He wants to look into the issue. Martin said, “I didn’t know so many constituents were against it.”

Another important aspect of the meeting was the presentation of an award to local state legislators, Rep. A.J. McCampbell and Sen. Bobby Singleton.

McCampbell and Singleton worked together on a bill that was passed into law this summer. The new law stiffens the penalty for drag racing. They passed the bill after hearing ‘horror stories’ of vehicular accidents caused by illegal drag racing happening in the Black Belt.

Seated in the audience, I was perplexed at the need for harsher penalties for drag racers. However, I quickly remembered that I was from Huntsville, Alabama, not Marengo County. These local legislators were doing what they were called to do when they were elected. They listened to their constituents, drew attention to an issue unique to their Black Belt community, and created a solution to address it.

The award was given to McCampbell and Singleton, but, in McCampbell’s acceptance speech, he praised the work of the county commission association. He said, “They really listen to you [the commission’s constituents], and they work to advance the county agenda.”

My experience at the county commission meeting exposed me to the process of making civic progression and the sacred relationship between politician and citizen.