Tangier mayor to appear Tuesday on CNN town hall with Al Gore

The President of the United States took time out of his schedule Monday afternoon to place a telephone call to Tangier Island Mayor James "Ooker" Eskridge, after viewing a CNN report about the island that aired last week. Produced by Megan Raymond

Tiny Tangier Island continues to claim the media spotlight with the announcement that the Virginia island's mayor, James "Ooker" Eskridge, is headed to New York to appear in a CNN Global Town Hall event Tuesday with former Vice President and filmmaker Al Gore.

The one-hour town hall, "The Climate Crisis: A CNN Town Hall Event," will air Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 9 p.m. and will be moderated by Anderson Cooper.

"It's a pretty big deal as I'm told he'll be debating with Al Gore! And no, I am not even joking," Tangier Councilwoman Anna E. Pruitt-Parks said in a Facebook post Sunday night.

Gore will discuss his latest film, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power," and Cooper and members of a live audience will discuss with Gore "how efforts to solve the climate crisis in the U.S. and around the world have been impacted by the Trump Administration's actions on climate and identify the way forward in the climate movement," according to a press release from CNN.

Pruitt-Parks asked for prayer for the mayor and for the event.

Tangier located in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, is about 3 miles long and is home to about 450 people, many of whom make their living catching fish, crabs and oysters as their ancestors have since the 1700s.

The island since 1850 has lost two-thirds of its landmass due to erosion from waves and sea-level rise, according to the authors of a 2015 study.

In another development, Tangier officials are slated to meet this week on the island with former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Pruitt-Parks said. The meeting is to discuss climate-related issues, she said.

Inglis in 2010 lost his bid for re-election after asserting he believed humans are contributing to climate change.

Pruitt-Parks also said an online fundraiser she started in June to send copies of a 2014 documentary film about Tangier's erosion problems to every member of Congress has surpassed its goal, raising nearly $5,000 given by 92 people in one month.

She began the fundraising effort after President Donald J. Trump placed a call to Eskridge on June 12 after he viewed a CNN report about the island.

Eskridge had said during the CNN interview he loved Trump as much as he would a family member.

Eskridge during the telephone call with Trump told the president that Tangier Island is "a huge supporter of Donald Trump. ... This is a Trump island; we really love you down here."

The island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay is a Republican stronghold — about 87 percent of residents voted for Trump in the November 2016 election.

An order for 550 copies of the documentary, "Pieces of Tangier," has been placed and the DVDs "are in production as we speak," Pruitt-Parks said Monday.

They should be ready in around two weeks, she said.

Pocomoke, Maryland, native Jenny Roberts created the documentary in 2014 as her master’s thesis.

Now the dilemma is how to get the DVDs into Congress' hands, Pruitt-Parks said.

She was told mailing the items with a Virginia return address will mean all the copies are directed to Virginia Sens. Mark Warner's and Tim Kaine's offices, rather than getting them into all members of Congress' hands — which is the objective.

"I'm working on getting a group of islanders to DC to distribute them, but it's going to take time and help from the Capitol to make this happen," she said.

Pruitt-Parks recently raised the goal of the online fundraiser to $1.5 million — with the new objective being to fund future jetty construction projects, "especially projects that are "shovel ready" such as the breakwaters that have been proposed for the area to our north called 'Uppards,'" she wrote in an update on the website.

In addition to the CNN town hall, Tangier is featured in a story airing Tuesday on CBN network's show, "The 700 Club."

On Twitter @cvvaughnESN

DelmarvaNow


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