Local thoughts on new president

Published 4:50 pm Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A historic event took place Tuesday in the nation’s capital, the inauguration of the United States’ first black president.

For the next four years Picayune, Poplarville, and south Mississippi’s politicians plan to set aside their political differences and work with the new administration under Democratic President Barrack Obama to bring forth change and prosperity.

Many challenges are visible for the next four years, two of the most prominent will be addressing the country’s current economic crisis and dealing with the war in Iraq.

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Before any real work is conducted by Obama and his administration, he had to first officially take office, which took take place at 12 noon Eastern Time (11 a.m. local time) Tuesday.

The inauguration of a president is an exciting time, said U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican. This will be the fourth such event he has attended and he said the democratic transfer or reaffirmation of power that takes place in this country every four years is something the rest of the world must envy.

There will be challenges for Obama to face when he does take office, Wicker said.

Those challenges include the current state of the economy and also international terrorism. With huge challenges comes the opportunity to achieve great things. To accomplish those things the American public will expect their leaders to come together and work through their differences to find the best approach, Wicker said.

“We’re all in this together. When big problems arise we need to look at ourselves as Americans rather than Republicans and Democrats,” Wicker said.

Unusual times may call for unusual tactics, said state Sen. Sid Albritton, also a Republican. Albritton said Obama’s unique outlook on addressing some of America’s problems may be what the country needs.

Pearl River County Board of Supervisors president Anthony Hales, a Democrat, said the state of the economy and Obama’s views on that problem may have been the reason he was elected as president.

State Sen. Ezell Lee, a Democrat, said he is hoping that in the next four years the Obama administration will not only repair the failing economy but also end the war in Iraq. To do those things requires team work, Lee said.

“I’m ready for him to get to work,” Lee said.

The country needs to pull together during the coming administration to work beyond political views to achieve those things, said Picayune City council member Leavern Guy, a Democrat. The American public is expecting great things from Obama, and Guy thinks the incoming president is up to the task as long as he has the country’s support.

Support also needs to come from all branches of the nation’s government for any of those things to happen, Hales said. Nothing will be accomplished unless state legislatures and the U.S. Congress work with the Obama administration.

“American people need answers, they don’t need arguments, they need answers,” said Hales. “Americans will not expect anything less than a spirit of cooperation,”

State Rep. Mark Formby, a Republican, said he likes to remain optimistic about the future of the nation, especially when he does not share the views of the president.

One of the concerns Formby has deals with Obama’s policies on taxation. If Obama does not reinstate the tax cuts initiated by President George W. Bush during his administration, then taxes will increase, Formby said. The current state of the economy makes it a bad time to raise taxes.

In the next four years Hales hopes the Obama administration does not forget the rural areas need just as much funding and legislative attention as the urban areas.

Not only does the upcoming inauguration signal a change in the presidential office, but a change in the historical views of the American public, Guy said. Obama’s election as president is a step in the right direction to breaking down the racial divide, he said.

“It doesn’t tear down all the barriers, but it lets you know that there are people in this country that get it,” Guy said.