By Bobby Harrison | NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
Steve Holland, a Plantersville Democrat, said he will continue to work to bring projects to District 16 and to all of Northeast Mississippi if re-elected for an eighth term.
Political novice Ben “Buddy” Coggin III, a Nettleton Republican, said Mississippi has been last for too long and it’s time for a change.
“We just seem to be stuck in 50th,” said Coggin, 60. “I think it is time to give somebody else a chance to bring some new ideas, maybe take a different approach to how to get Mississippi off the bottom.”
Holland, the 55-year-old chair of the House Public Health Committee, has made his mark on the area. He was instrumental in bringing North Mississippi State Hospital to Tupelo and played a key role in passage of legislation to begin an expansion of the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum.
“I still have the energy and I have a wealth of experience that always benefits the people of Lee County and Northeast Mississippi,” he said. “I know the process. I know the rules, and I have compassion in my heart. I want to continue to serve.”
Holland, who owns three funeral homes in north Mississippi, describes himself as “a Thomas Jefferson legislator” who serves because he wants to have an impact.
“I do not make a living from the Legislature under any circumstances,” he said. “It costs me to be there.”
If elected, Coggin said he would work to look for ways to reduce government spending.
“I just think the budget problem is the primary issue. We must make sure we are careful where we spend taxpayer money,” he said.
Coggin said he would go to a school and sit in and see what would improve education.
“I am a hands-on person,” Coggin said. “I believe in going where the problem is and trying to get as much information as possible.”
Holland said he would continue to support full funding of education and would work to garner exemptions from the federal No Child Left Behind legislation to “allow our more promising school districts to move forward.”
He also said he would work to protect Medicaid.
Both said they would oppose changes that lower benefits in the Public Employees’ Retirement System.