By Bobby Harrison | NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
William Tracy Arnold and Tommy Cadle are vying to fill some large shoes.
The pair – Arnold, a Republican, and Cadle, a Democrat – are running to replace longtime District 3 state Rep. Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi. McCoy, who has held the post since 1980, is completing his second term as House speaker and opted not to seek re-election.
“I have always wanted to run for this seat, but I would have never challenged Billy McCoy,” said Cadle. “First of all, I couldn’t beat him. Billy has been so effective and is a dear friend.
“But with him stepping down, I saw the opportunity to run and try to do some things I think would be good for the people of the district and for the state.”
Arnold received 38 percent of the vote against McCoy in 2007.
“We are working hard. It is looking really good on our behalf,” said Arnold, who says he also has worked on gathering signatures for the personhood initiative.
“As a pastor in our community, I see the needs of our people,” Arnold said. “Our people are suffering for jobs and opportunity, and we also need to protect the benefits for our seniors. Illegal immigrants are getting the benefits that should go to Americans – hard-working Americans who have paid for the benefits they deserve.”
Both candidates said they would oppose changes to the Public Employees’ Retirement System that would negatively affect the benefits of current state and local government employees.
“We need to keep it the way it is,” said Arnold, adding the system is an effective tool in recruiting quality teachers and state employees.
“The motivation to tamper with PERS is pure greed,” said Cadle, referring to the fear of some that there will be an effort to convert the system to a defined contribution plan where benefits to retirees are based on investment earnings from the stock market. “The system is fine. It has good management … If the government shut down today, we could pay benefits for 40 years.”
Cadle also said he would work to enact laws to allow early voting – as is done in other states. He said the current situation gives many working people only limited time to vote, especially if they are having to deal with youth activities and other family issues.
“Look at the small percentage that actually turn out to vote,” Cadle said. “How would that change if we actually had two weeks to vote?”
Cadle also wants to look for ways to repeal the sales tax on groceries if elected.
“There must be another way to get revenue,” he said.
Arnold said he would like to work to make sure Mississippians, “definitely our senior citizens, have the health care they need accessible.” He wanted “to pass strong illegal immigration legislation to protect American jobs.”
Both said they are strong supporters of public education.
“I would like for us to fund education,” said Arnold. “That is very important to economic growth and to enabling our young people to take on the technology jobs I believe are coming to Mississippi.”
Cadle said he supports public education and also moving the community colleges to the mid-point range in funding between the senior colleges and kindergarten through 12th grade schools.
“Education is the answer to most of our problems. I have always believed that,” Cadle said.