House of Representatives District 119: Candidate Q&A

Candidates for this office were offered a questionnaire on education issues by The Parents’ Campaign. See below for responses received to date.

General Election Candidate (Unopposed):  Sonya Williams Barnes

 Sonya Williams Barnes (Incumbent)

» See Voting Record

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? My grandparents, parents and sister are or were public school teachers in MS and me along with my son are products of MS public schools. Public schools are my number one priority as a state legislator.

2. Do you agree that the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) should be fully funded every year? If yes, what actions will you take to ensure full funding? If no, explain why. Yes, I want the MAEP fully funded every year. I will introduce, co-author, vote and advocate for full funding of the MAEP. I will also continue to maintain a close relationship with educators in my district. No one knows better what is needed in education than educators.

 3. What will you do to ensure state revenue that is sufficient to provide all of the services Mississippi’s citizens need to lead productive lives? I will do all in my power to always support, introduce and vote for legislation that provides productive lives for citizens in our state.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? Yes. We must fund public schools first. We have not done our job in making sure we take care of our public schools and public school teachers.

5. Do you agree that all K-12 schools that receive taxpayer dollars, including private voucher schools, should be accountable to taxpayers for the quality of education they provide, using the same accountability measures as public schools? YES!

6. Public schools serve the vast majority of Mississippi students with disabilities. Do you agree that special education services in public schools should be fully funded every year? (Special education has been underfunded by the state every year since 2008.) If yes, how will you accomplish full funding? If no, explain why. Yes. We must make sure that special education as well as all public education should be fully funded.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Yes

8. The nation’s top teachers say that the greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students are family stress, poverty, and learning and psychological problems. What steps do you believe legislators should take to alleviate these obstacles for Mississippi children? We must ensure affordable healthcare, education, social services and access to provide an equitable life.

9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature? Yes

11. Legislators have little or no staff to help them understand the many bills they must consider. Before introducing or supporting a bill that could affect public education, will you commit to seeking input from teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents of public school students in your district? Who will be advising you on education policies? Most definitely. I do now and will continue.

12. Legislators receive tremendous pressure from the leaders of their chamber (House or Senate), state and party leaders, and corporate lobbyists, to vote in ways that may contradict the will of their constituents and harm their communities. How will you respond to this pressure? I will respond as I always have. I do what is best for those I serve with no influence from outside entities.


 Jeffrey Hulum (defeated in primary)


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