Lamar Co. School Board District E candidates make case to voters

Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 6:08 PM CDT
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LAMAR COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - In less than two weeks, Lamar County residents will elect a new Lamar County School Board Member for District E. The two candidates, Jennie Hensarling and Brady Raanes, spoke about their background.

“I’m a Ph.D. candidate in educational Leadership. I have been an online professor for the past 16 years," Hensarling said. "I’ve served on the PTO in Sumrall for the past 11 years as the president, the vice president, the treasurer.”

“I’m the Director of Investment strategy for a local investment firm, and I’m also a business owner," Raanes said. "I’m also the president of the Pine Belt Foundation here in Hattiesburg. I’m pretty well experienced and well-versed in fiscal budgeting and how to allocate capital.”

Hensarling and Raanes are running for District E, which covers Baxterville/Purvis, Oak Grove and Sumrall. Raanes said if elected he would make sure the district used its budget in a way that’s most beneficial for students.

“The budget itself is one of the main motivations," Raanes said. “The Lamar County School Board has a $106 million annual budget and what they do with that money has a huge impact not only just on the students and their ability to learn, but also on the quality of the principals and the teachers that we are able to employ. And, ultimately, the value of properties and businesses and the attractiveness of the surrounding area.”

Hensarling said if elected, she would address parents and teacher’s COVID-19 concerns.

“Obviously, right now the hot button topic is COVID and whether or not our children are in schools," Hensarling said. "I think that everyone, no matter their position, thinks that children need to be educated in a safe and secure environment but that also extends to our teachers. Our teachers and our administrators also need to be in a safe and secure environment. So, I would like to hear those concerns.”

Both gave their final pitch to Lamar County voters.

“I think that people should vote for me because I am the voice of Sumrall," Hensarling said. "I’ve been boots on the ground every day for the past 11 years meeting the needs of parents, students, teachers and administrators and I’m going to continue to do that. No job is too big or too small. I am here to serve the community.”

“What the school board does is less about education and more about how to handle county resources," Raanes said. "What they do with those resources has a tremendous impact on the quality of the school system. So, that is where I think I can be an asset and fit in.”

The winner will be taking the place of Buddy Morris, who decided not to run for a third term on the Lamar County School Board after serving 12 years in District E.

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