HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - With major focus on the presidential race in November, political experts warn against overlooking those running for local office who will also be on the ballot.
"I always say that national politics is, in many ways, entertaining, but the day to day impact of politics on your most immediate concerns are handled at the state and local level," said Troy Gibson, associate professor of political science at The University of Southern Mississippi. "The vast majority of the most pressing kinds of issues that affect you in the pocket, around your house, neighborhood are occurring in local and state elections."
Gibson said state and local lawmakers are the people directly working with things like education spending, crime fighting and property value.
"It's very easy to get swept away with the tides and currents of national politics and the charismatic figures who come and go there," he said. "That seems to be where all the action is, but you can't exaggerate the importance of what state and local elected officials do to your day to day life whether it's education, crime or property. Those issues that are most of immediate concern to people are decided by state and local officials."
Two special elections for state representatives in Pine Belt districts will included on the November ballot. Monday is the last day to qualify to run as a candidate for House District 89, which is Jones County, or House District 106, which is Lamar and Pearl River counties.
As of Monday, the Mississippi Secretary of State's Office lists three candidates for District 89, which was previously held by Rep. Bobby Shows, and five for District 106, which was previously held by Herb Frierson. Candidates for District 89 are Travis Mac Haynes, Donnie Scoggin and Ron Swindall, and candidates in District 106 are John Glen Corley, Larry D. Davis, Greg Holcomb, Ben Winston and Daniel Wise. Anyone wishing to qualify had until close of business Monday to do so.
"What you want to look for in a candidate is their experience," Gibson said. "That usually is a good indicator of the quality of the candidate. Someone who has held elective office before. Do they have any baggage that would call into question their integrity in office? Moral integrity is a big issue these days, apparently, in politics. Those are concerns and then whether the person reflects your values, your material concerns but also your moral values. The party label is one way, one cue to help you do that, but it's going to take future digging into their backgrounds for you to get a better assessment of who they are and how they might or might not represent your interests."
Gibson said one thing Mississippians should consider when electing lawmakers who will will represent them in D.C. is healthcare.
"Healthcare is something that Mississippians have to consider," he said. "Much of our healthcare budget is funded by the national government, so what our congressmen and senators do with respect to Obamacare is going to directly affect how much our citizens in this state can expect to benefit from Obamacare or be hurt by it."
Other races on the November ballot impacting the Pine Belt include:
- U.S. House of Representatives 3rd Congressional District
- Gregg Harper - Republican
- Dennis C. Quinn - Democrat
- Roger I. Gerrard - Veterans
- Lajena Sheets - Reform
- U.S. House of Representatives 4th Congressional District
- Mark Gladney - Democrat
- Steven Palazzo - Republican
- Richard Blake McCluskey - Libertarian
- Shawn O'Hara - Reform
- Supreme Court Justice, District 2 (Southern), Position 2
- Dawn H. Beam
- Michael T. Shareef
- Court of Appeals Judge, District 3, Position 1 (Includes Smith and Jasper counties)
- Ed Hannan
- Jack Wilson
- Dow Yoder
- Court of Appeals Judge, District 5, Position 2
- David Ishee
- Circuit Court Judge, District 10, Place 1 (Wayne County)
- Justin M. Cobb