By Bobby Harrison
TUPELO – As House Transportation Committee chairman, Warner McBride of Courtland says he has the understanding and experience to make the state Department of Transportation more efficient.
And that, McBride said Thursday, is why he is running for the open Northern District transportation commissioner slot on Jan. 11.
“I think there needs to be a commissioner elected who is going to work to maintain and protect the 50,000 jobs tied to the transportation industry,” said McBride.
“It is more important than ever to maintain the $1 billion budget of the Department of Transportation.”
McBride said the department is vital because a good transportation system, including highways, rail, air and water, is crucial to the economic development of the state and because the construction of highways in itself spurs economic development.
He said it is important to ensure the fuel tax collected to build roads is not diverted to other areas of state government.
McBride is one of seven people who have announced or have qualified to run for the Northern District seat that is open because of the unexpected death of incumbent Bill Minor of Holly Springs. Today is the qualifying deadline.
McBride, 54, is in his fifth term in the Mississippi House representing portions of Panola, Tallahatchie and Lafayette counties. He has been elected as a Democrat, but said he is not declaring a party label for the special election, which is nonpartisan.
McBride has been active in transportation issues during his entire tenure in the Legislature and is finishing his first term as chair of the Transportation Committee.
He touted his efforts to successfully pass a $300 million bond bill this past session that speeded up work on priority highways, such as U.S. Highway 15 and state Highway 9 going from Pontotoc to the Toyota plant at Blue Springs.
He said his legislative experience shows “I am willing to work with the governor, the Mississippi Development Authority and other members of the Legislature to make these things happen.”