Women in Mississippi politics

Updated: Jan. 18, 2018 at 10:13 PM CST
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PINE BELT (WDAM) - On the national level, there's a growing number of women running for and winning political office. We take a look at the number of women holding political office and leading our state from the legislature to the local level.

"Women are as capable as anyone else of serving in a political office," former Laurel Mayor Susan Vincent said.

Susan Vincent was the first female full-term mayor to have been elected for that position in the City of Laurel. She served three terms from 1993 until 2005.

"At the time I decided to run for mayor, the council and the mayor were not getting a long very well," Vincent said. "It was really like a civil war at Laurel City Hall. I didn't like what was happening and I decided I was going to get in there and do something about it."

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, there are 9 women serving as senators in Mississippi out of the 52 state senate seats.
As for the State House, there are a total of122 members, 17 of which are women.

"I actually ran for the senate in 1991, and I lost that," Vincent said. "But, I was up in the legislature a lot as an activist. I feel like men dig their heels in and they are not willing to give at all. Sometimes the woman's touch and the ability to compromise and get different groups to work together you can accomplish a lot more."

Here's a look at Statewide Elective Executives in our state. Hattiesburg native Evelyn Gandy made history serving on several political seats in our state. Gandy served as Lt. Governor of Mississippi from 1976 to 1980.

It wasn't until 2000 another woman was elected as Lt. Governor, that was Amy Tuck.

In 2012 Cindy Hyde-Smith and Lynn Fitch clenched elective executive titles. Hyde-Smith currently holds the Commissioner of Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce position while Fitch still serves as our State Treasurer.

"Women have a roll and they can do it if given an opportunity," Vincent said.

Despite Mississippi being ranked 46 in the nation for women in legislative roles, the number of women holding positions at a local government level is growing as we see more women running and holding positions within city governments. From mayors to board of alderperson positions as well as serving on city councils.

"I think we are a lot more powerful than people give us credit for," Vincent said.

But there's still a long way for Mississippi to grow when it comes to inclusion of women in politics. According to the CAWP, Mississippi is one of two states that has never sent a woman to either the U.S. Senate or the House.

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