NEWS on LIFE, WORK, & PLAY in Mississippi's College Town

Candidate Profiles: Mississippi Senate District 15

candidate_profile

 

GARY JACKSON

What qualifications and experience do you feel you possess that will benefit the office you are seeking?
While I treasure the 12 years of experience in the Senate, positions of leadership, service, and relationships I’ve made in Jackson, I believe the truly important relationships and experiences are the ones from here in my home district.  I note the following as examples:   My paternal grandfather was an Oktibbeha County Supervisor for 12 years.  My father was postmaster for years in Sturgis.  My wife was at the MSU Alumni Association and worked for years with John Correro.  Three of my four siblings have worked or been in business in Starkville.  I was born in Starkville, graduated from Sturgis High and MSU, and worked in banking in Starkville.

Not to discount the value of a formal education, but to add it to an intense love of the people, common-sense decisions and a desire to serve and do what is in the best interest of the people of our area.

What growth or improvements do you hope to see in the Starkville/Oktibbeha County area in the next 5 years?
I hope to continue the progress that has been realized with the Starkville-MSU relations over the past several years.  The dichotomy that burdened our area for years hardly exists today.

Favorable legislation, hard work from the GSDP and other organizations, and an eager and talented work force have made the prospects for continued economic growth brighter than ever before.  Because of these reasons and others, the Starkville area has become increasingly a place where even people who work in other towns want to live here and call Starkville “home”.

The new Stark/Okt Consolidated School District is an important change for our community. What role do you think the Mississippi Legislature should play in the continued success of public education in Oktibbeha County? How will you advocate for improved public education in Mississippi?
My philosophy is “local decisions should be made by local people”.  Having said that, since the legislature interjected itself into our situation by creating a time-line and other burdens that we would not have created for ourselves, I feel it would be proper for them to incentivize the effort and I have and will continue to advocate for that.

As a legislator representing Starkville/Okt County, how will you advocate for the continued prominence of Mississippi State University in the region and what programs/initiatives do you feel are most important?
As an alumnus of MSU (bleeding maroon), I believe with the current leadership in place MSU will continue to be a leader in technology, agriculture/forestry, and engineering as well as in other fields.  Anyone who doesn’t see the value in having a prominent research institution just isn’t looking.  I have and as long as I am able I will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, advocate for MSU in the Senate.  Go Dawgs.

 


 

 

CECIL L. SIMMONS

What qualifications and experience do you feel you possess that will benefit the office you are seeking?
I have a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degree from Mississippi State University as well as a J.D. degree from Mississippi College School of Law. Additionally, I have 27 years of experience in the House of Representatives, five years in which I served as Speaker Pro Tempore.

What growth or improvements do you hope to see in the Starkville/Oktibbeha County area in the next 5 years?
I hope to see the successful merger of the city and county school districts. I believe this will enhance the growth and economic development in our community.

The new Stark/Okt Consolidated School District is an important change for our community. What role do you think the Mississippi Legislature should play in the continued success of public education in Oktibbeha County? How will you advocate for improved public education in Mississippi?
Adequate funding of all levels of education will be the primary role the legislature should play for continued success of public education in Oktibbeha County. I will support full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). I will also stand ready to sponsor any cleanup legislation necessary for the successful completion of this new consolidated school district.

What do you think is required for Starkville/Oktibbeha County to gain new economic development success & what role do you believe the MS Legislature should play?
If we have the best educational opportunities, with the public’s support, we will enhance economic development. The legislature should be available, mainly through the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), for infrastructure development, loans, grants, and providing tax incentives based on the number of jobs created.

As a legislator representing Starkville/Okt County, how will you advocate for the continued prominence of Mississippi State University in the region and what programs/initiatives do you feel are most important?
At this time, I believe the legislature will have to address our state flag. By saying, “nothing has changed”, we are creating an economic tsunami that will have a current and future detrimental effect on our state and local economy. The current flag will hurt our ability to recruit faculty, staff, and students, especially student athletes. Moving forward, as a legislator advocating a new state flag will be the single most important initiative for Mississippi State University, Starkville, and Oktibbeha County.