Adams, Walker to appear on Triad Today
Itâ€™s not unusual for a politician to get tagged with a nickname, but itâ€™s pretty uncommon for two freshman Congresspersons to share the same moniker. Around the Nationâ€™s Capitol, Representatives Alma Adams and Mark Walker are known as â€œMALMA,â€ an affectionate amalgamation of their first names. The co-joined ID is inspired by a number of factors. They both reside in Guilford, and their districts (Markâ€™s 6th and Almaâ€™s 12th) represent constituents in the gerrymandered county. And though they sit on opposite sides of the aisle in Congress (Alma with the Democrats and Mark with the Republicans), â€œMALMAâ€ work well together and have developed a growing friendship and respect for one another. Itâ€™s a refreshing change from the vitriol and gridlock weâ€™ve come to expect from Congress. Moreover, theirs is a relationship, which has helped to advance legislation about some very important issues ranging from human trafficking to hunger.
This weekend, Alma and Mark will appear on my Triad Today television show to discuss those and other issues, some of which they agree on, others not so much. Yet the two share a common respect for each other, and for the constituents they represent.
Our discussion was taped on Wednesday May 6 while Adams and Walker were on break from their duties in Washington. For the record, Rep. Renee Ellmers was also invited to participate and agreed to do so. However, the night before we taped our program, her assistant called and cancelled. Ellmers, it seems, decided to attend a party in Raleigh given by some friends of her son. Breaking a promise to communicate with constituents in order to attend a social engagement does not speak well for an elected official. Fortunately, though, â€œMALMAâ€ kept their promise, and we learned a lot from them as a result. Here then, are some highlights from our discussion.
JL: Congratulations Mark, on getting your Human Trafficking bill through the Senate. Tell us again why it was needed and what it will accomplish.
MW: This is a growing criminal industry ...North Carolina is getting ready to move from 9th to 7th in overall human trafficking, whether itâ€™s sex trafficking or labor trafficking. And what we wanted to do in our bill is to make sure weâ€™re having our security folks, the border patrol, even the TSA, go through the proper training to be able to spot either the victims or the perpetrators who may be trying to bring in really young folks to force them into this kind of slavery.
JL: Alma, youâ€™re pushing for an emergency food bank. Why?
AA: Hunger in our community is at an emergency level now. Weâ€™ve seen the report that put North Carolina at the top of the list for hunger, and here in the 12th district, hunger is very prevalent. The Triad has been mentioned as having a real issue with lack of food, so we need to provide food for people who need it right now.
JL: Does that mean federal funding will be involved?
AA: Absolutely. I think the federal government can do a lot in that regard. Right now in the Agriculture committee and the subcommittee on Nutrition, weâ€™re looking at various programs that will put food back into the community, â€œSNAPâ€ (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for children, and so forth.
JL: Mark you also sponsored a bill to provide police with body cameras. Will this help reduce the kinds of incidents weâ€™ve seen occur in Ferguson and Baltimore in making police more accountable?
MW: I think so, but what weâ€™re hearing from law enforcement agencies is that this is something they welcome to prove that ninety-plus percent of them are doing a great job. Our goal is to show people that this protects not only the police, but also any potential victims.
JL: Mark youâ€™ve been pushing for term limits. Howâ€™s that effort going, Don Quixote?
MW: (laughs) Iâ€™m not getting a lot of â€œAmens,â€ to use my ministerial background as a reference, and yes, weâ€™re fighting dragons there. But there is a piece of legislation by Andy Barr of Kentucky that may get a little traction. It proposes that a Congressman serve 12 years maximum, take at least a twoyear break, and then if you want to run again, you would be able to do so.
AA: My position on term limits has remained the same, which is that constituents will determine your limits. If youâ€™ve got a Congressman or a legislator in the State House or Senate whoâ€™s doing a good job and doing what the people want them to do, then they should be allowed to continue. I think the people can determine those limits.
My interviews with â€œMALMAâ€ can be seen this Saturday at 7:30am on WXLV abc45, and Sunday at 11am on MY48. !
JIM LONGWORTH is the host of â€œTriad Today,â€ airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).