“Out of sight, out of mind” keeps some officials in office

One of the things that continues to strike me as unusual about living in Northeast Mississippi is that the government of the State of Mississippi seems to be located in a land far, far away and state government activities are simply not discussed much in this part of the state. Actually, there are groups who have some strong ties and connections with our state elected and appointed officials and it is they who communicate how you and I feel about the affairs of our state.

     The only problem with this unofficial representation is that these groups never talk with you and I and actually find out how we feel. The reality is that we know so little about what our state officials are doing that few of us could express more than uninformed opinions. Obviously, these groups and, apparently our elected state officials from our area, like it this way.

     I have formed that opinion, since for months, approaching a year, I have been casually asking random folks that I meet and chat with, if they know the names of our state representative and state senator. Not surprisingly, I have found that few of the average citizens can call their names and even less of them have ever seen either elected official.

     All of this could be explained by dismissing the lack of name recall and failure to witness these officials’ last political visits to the folks I’ve been talking to being out of the mainstream of our society and as the disinterested, non-active people in our midst. Except that’s not the case.

     The elected representative to the Mississippi House of Representatives from District 14, which includes both Pontotoc and Union Counties, is Margaret Rogers. She has held this elected office since 2004 and is a resident of New Albany. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi, is an accountant and serves on the Banking and Financial Services Committee, the Ethics Committee, Judiciary A, Judiciary En Banc, Juvenile Justice Committee, the Management Committee, Transportation Committee and the Committee for Universities and Colleges. Representative Rogers is the Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Oil, Gas and Other Minerals.

     Obviously, Representative Rogers has established her influence with the House of Representatives and in doing so, should be a strong resource for all of us who have interests particularly in the areas about which her committee memberships affect. Should you have such a desire to go straight to an elected official who can provide information and perhaps assistance, Representative Rogers can be reached at our state capitol at Post Office Box 1018, Jackson, Mississippi 39215. No phone number in Jackson is provided, but Representative Rogers has an email address of mrogers@mail.house.state.ms.us where she may be contacted.

     Since 1996, our State Senate District 3, including Calhoun, Pontotoc and Union Counties, has been represented in the Mississippi State Senate by Nickey Browning. Senator Browning is the least known or recognizable elected official in Union County, according to my unscientific poll.

     Who is our State Senator? Well, he is from Pontotoc, attended Northeast Mississippi Community College and Mississippi State University and is classified as a businessman. He is the Chairman of the State Senate Committee on County Affairs and is the Vice-Chairman of the Public Utilities Committee. Senator Browning also serves on the Senate Committees on Business and Financial Institutions, Finance, Forestry, Highways and Transportation, Public Property, Rules and Veterans and Military Affairs.

     With his impressive accumulation of influence, our elected State Senator should be a huge resource to the people he presumes to represent. He may be reached at Post Office Box 1018, Jackson, Mississippi 39215 and he actually provides a phone number, 601-359-3226, but no email address.

     So, unless I’m talking to some really out-of-touch people, then why are these two duly elected, obviously influential state officials not known by the general public?

     Occasionally, Representative Rogers will be briefly seen among the masses, but Senator Browning is rarely seen, at least in Union County and apparently not where the voting public might be around. So how do these officials continue to rally enough support to stay in office?

     The answer to that question might surprise us all, but more so, what most of us would really like to do is encourage our elected state officials to not practice the theory of “out of sight, out of mind” and let all citizens in on the affairs of the state and expand your representation beyond that of just a few.