FLORENCE — Two congressmen urged Florence High School students Monday to study the issues in this year’s presidential and congressional elections, and vote — no matter which party they support.
U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville,, and Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., spoke Monday morning to seniors. Brooks represents much of north Alabama, including Florence, and Guthrie is a native of Florence who graduated from the former Bradshaw High School.
Both men described what they believe are the most pressing issues the country faces — with a decidedly Republican slant — but never encouraged the students to vote for Republicans. The Democratic challenger in Brooks’ race, Charlie Holley, was not present.
Guthrie said his family left Florence after the Ford Motor Co. plant in Muscle Shoals closed in the early 1980s in a national recession. He said many of his classmates had planned to work there, earning good wages and benefits without a college education. Those plans changed for those students, making additional education beyond high school essential.
“You must have additional learning after high school,” he told the students. “This is not the end; it’s the beginning.”
Brooks told students they will be deciding the course of the country in a few years.
“Think about what the government does in your lives and how you can make government better,” he said. “This is my challenge to you, as seniors.”
Brooks and Guthrie fielded questions from the students, which ranged from how to pay down the national debt without gutting services, to the lack of jobs for college graduates.
Guthrie said there is a shortage of skilled labor, which he has observed from talking to owners of manufacturing facilities. He said vocational training can be just as good an option as a four-year college course.
Brooks said he subscribes to a philosophy of cutting spending over time instead of raising taxes.
He said doing either too quickly or broadly could have devastating effects on the economy.
Guthrie was in town for his 30-year high school reunion, and spent some time campaigning for Brooks.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.