Deprecated: Function Elementor\DB::is_built_with_elementor is deprecated since version 3.2.0! Use Plugin::$instance->documents->get( $post_id )->is_built_with_elementor() instead. in /mnt/data/vhosts/casite-598751.cloudaccess.net/httpdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5379
Election 2019: Candidate Q&A HD73 - The Parents Campaign

House of Representatives District 73: 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 Candidates:    Jill Ford  WINNER  /   Gayle Massey

 Jill Ford     WINNER

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I graduated from public schools and my youngest son graduated from public schools.

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. I believe that public schools in Mississippi must be fully funded to allow our teachers the resources needed to ensure growth and success. This includes paying our teachers what they deserve to be paid. I will carefully evaluate the MAEP and other alternatives to make sure we accomplish the goal of full and adequate funding. As a fiscal conservative, I will balance our educational funding with other needs; but education, infrastructure, and public safety will be my top priorities.

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 believe revenue generation begins with excellent public schools and public safety. Economic development opportunities which develop revenue sources are dependent upon and directly related to quality education. Madison County enjoys great schools and I intend to fully support them.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? Although I don’t like these words, I must say it depends. Generally speaking, I do not support sending public dollars to non-public schools. However, there are some specific services that certain public schools may not be equipped to provide. In that instance, I may support using public dollars for private services but only if the same accountability is demanded.

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. While one may debate what the appropriate accountability standards or models should be, there should be no debate that such standards must be applied uniformly to anyone benefiting from public dollars.

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. Again, I believe public schools must be provided full and adequate funding to provide the services required. This includes special education. I must first educate myself on what services are needed and required and then look for options to fully fund same. I also believe we must look for alternatives which would help reach these goals in the most cost effective manner.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? I do. I believe Mississippi should fully fund a Pre-K program to ensure all our children have an opportunity to succeed. It may well be that given limited resources we must phase this program in over time with the most critical areas having priority.

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? Economic Development is critical in this area. Quality employment opportunities for our people will help eliminate economic stress and poverty. As for learning challenges, we must again equip our teachers with the tools needed to address these issues and develop effective programs, as well. The resources must be coupled with appropriate accountability standards.

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

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature? I will commit to carefully review this issue. Generally speaking, I do believe retired educators/other state employees could bring important knowledge and experience to any debate.

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? Yes. I will seek guidance from my local School Board members as well as the Superintendent and administrators throughout District 73.

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 intend to vote based on what is in the best interest of District 73 and the State of Mississippi. I can assure you that I will be independent and carefully consider all issues before casting a vote.


 Gayle Massey

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I attended Forest High School graduating in 1971. 

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. The schools must be fully funded to enable our educators to improve outcomes for all Mississippi students.

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? We must prioritize education and healthcare. Tax credits given to businesses must be closely scrutinized and minimized. It must meet strict criteria. Tax revenue must be sufficient to meet goals for improvements. 

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 need every dollar in the public schools. There is no accountability for schools receiving vouchers.

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? Absolutely.

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. Students with disabilities are still students.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? I do agree. This could be phased in starting with areas that have failing schools (D-F).

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? Expand Medicaid available through ACA. Pre-K classes in low-income areas. Equal pay and minimum wage legislation. Correct problems with mental health care in Mississippi.

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

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature? I am not sure I understand all the pertinent factors. Legislative pay is not sufficient for a full time job. It would seem to be a good idea to benefit from former educators in the legislature. So yes to drawing state retirement unless I was given solid reasons to be against it.

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? Yes. Understanding problems from educators’ perspectives and receiving input, suggestions, and explanations will help to craft the best legislation to affect change.

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 not be influenced by outsiders or party. My guiding principle must be to make Mississippi work for all students and citizens.


 John L. Black (defeated in primary)

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I live in Madison County, and the high quality schools available to our communities are the main reason this is the best place in Mississippi to live and raise a family. I ran a business for many years that relied on having educated employees. You will not find a strong economy anywhere in the world that does not have a strong educational system supporting it.

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. I want education in Mississippi to be more than adequate, I want us to excel. That requires sufficient dollars to pay good teachers, maintain quality facilities, and educate our children. I will always support prioritizing education funding in the state legislature.

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? As a businessman who employed hundreds of people, I know that budgeting is about setting priorities. State government is responsible for funding education, public safety, and infrastructure. We need more people who know how to set priorities and fewer career politicians in the legislature.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? I start from the premise that all children deserve a high quality education. School districts like Madison’s are doing an excellent job and deserve to be supported and largely left alone to continue their great work. It is the job of the legislature to help children in failing school districts. I will work with anyone to fix failing schools and offer opportunity to the children stuck in them.

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? Anyone who receives money from the taxpayers must be held accountable to the taxpayers.

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 should prioritize and fund special education services.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? We need to focus on fixing our failing schools and ensuring every child has a high quality education. I am open to studying the issue and the costs and benefits of increasing investment in early childhood education.

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? I am running for the legislature to help make Mississippi the number 1 place for job creation in America. That means eliminating the state income tax to compete with our neighbors like Tennessee, Texas, and Florida, as well as repealing the entire regulatory code and starting over to create a 21st century business environment. More jobs means more opportunity and also more tax revenue for state government to fund the key areas like education and infrastructure.

9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? I don’t want to be average. I want us to be the best. My goal would be to have the best paid teachers so that we attract and retain the best educators from around the Southeast and the country to teach our children.

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? I will always listen to the people who are experts in their field. For education that means teachers, school boards, administrators, and parents.

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 am not running to vote the way a lobbyist wants me to vote. I am running to bring my business background to the legislature to help move Mississippi forward.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.