Senate District 47: 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.
1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? My father was on the Biloxi School Board for over 30 years and instilled in us the importance of public education. My children attended the Biloxi Public Schools and we were active with them. I also served 12 years as a Harrison County Supervisor and was active with the county school system where we had to approve their millage. Also, my wife was a school nurse for 12 years.
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 agree it should be.
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 not increase taxes. I feel that the Legislature has to set priorities in spending and work to cut waste and unnecessary spending. I also feel that education should be a top priority. Without an educated and trained work force we can not have economic development and without it our revenue is stagnant.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? I support public education and always will.
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, as a grandfather with a grandson that is autistic and attends special education in the Long Beach public school system I know the need for special education.
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 have got to provide more and better mental health treatment statewide.
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, as a retired County Supervisor that is in the same situation and running for the Legislature I know the problem.
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 be reaching out to the experts in the education field along with the constituents I represent.
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? In my political career I have always been my own man and have made some decisions that powerful people disagreed with, but I will always standup for what I think is right for the constituents I serve. (I am so committed to education in Mississippi that I have pledged to donate my yearly base senate salary to Mississippi Gulf Coast and Pearl River Community Colleges for Career & Technical scholarships.)