Skinner: Dems give helping hand to those who are struggling

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 4, 2000

For Shirley Skinner, promoting the Democratic Party and its principles is a way of sharing her blessings with her fellow man.

&uot;I feel very fortunate,&uot; she said. &uot;I’ve never had to worry about where my next meal is coming from. There are people out there who can’t say that.&uot;

Skinner believes the Democratic Party has better plans for giving a helping hand to those who are struggling, especially financially. &uot;So many people don’t know what politics can do for them,&uot; she said. &uot;I saw a Republican ad featuring a man standing by his pickup truck representing someone who would benefit from estate tax relief.

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&uot;Does the average person realize how much you have to have before there is even a tax put on your estate when you die?&uot;

As the committeewoman from Mississippi on the Democratic National Committee, 1984-88, Skinner met party leaders from all over the country in her role.

In 1988 she and former Mississippi Gov. William Winter co-chaired the presidential campaign for Michael Dukakis.

&uot;Dukakis was a good candidate, a fine and gentle man,&uot; she said, &uot;And I’ll never forget working with William Winter, a real statesman.&uot;

During those years, she honed her own political savvy, she said, &uot;picking the brains of some of the smartest Democrats.&uot;

Skinner has been involved for many years in labor organizations, today serving as president of the Natchez Central Labor Council and a board member of the Association of State Central Labor Councils.

She also is an AFL-CIO Red Cross volunteer.

Working with labor unions, Skinner developed a sense about candidates and where they stand for the working man.

&uot;We have endorsed Al Gore, of course, and, in this area of Mississippi we have endorsed Ronnie Shows for the 4th District congressional seat.&uot;

Shows, she said, has the right platform to address questions on Social Security and health care costs for Mississippians. &uot;Ronnie also has been working on a bill to treat retired military people fairly, to give them the medical care they were promised.&uot;

In the Supreme Court race, the labor council has offered a dual recommendation in Oliver Diaz and Billy Joe Landrum in the Southern District. &uot;We have chosen these two as people who are friendly toward labor and then we let the membership decide which one to vote for.&uot;

Skinner believes many issues voters in southwest Mississippi face now are similar to issues in every election.

&uot;We are always concerned with needs of our senior citizens, with education and with unemployment and wages,&uot; she said. &uot;But basically I think the average voter just wants to know that we have a safe and secure place to raise our families.&uot;

Skinner became interested in politics at a young age. &uot;I guess you would say I learned about politics at my father’s knee,&uot; she said, recalling her childhood in Lincoln County.

&uot;Dad was always involved in politics, and I’d go along with him during election time to ride the polls. It was exciting. We’d go from one poll to the other and write down the votes that had been counted. Sometimes I wish we could go back to those paper ballots just once more.&uot;

Of the many candidates Skinner has supported, one stands out today as the epitome of what the Democratic Party represents: President Jimmy Carter, 1977-1981.

&uot;I know that may sound surprising; he was not the greatest of presidents,&uot; she said., citing instead Carter’s concern for his fellowman.

&uot;He was and is a good man with impeccable motives now and then.&uot;