By JB Clark
JACINTO – The sun was out, shade plentiful and politicians in excess on the lawn of the Jacinto Courthouse on Friday, with most political speakers and attendees noting how nice and unseasonably cool the weather was.
Friday’s Jacinto Fourth of July Festival featured speeches from local, state and federal public office candidates, traditional Native American dances performed by Choctaws, food, games and even a petting zoo.
Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, D-Nettleton, took the stage early to remind voters the government works for the people and not the other way around.
“We own the government, you and I,” he said. “The minute that changes and the minute an elected official gets too good at their job to answer the phones is when they need to go home.”
He also took time to speak against proposals by many state officials for Mississippi to become a storage area for nuclear waste.
Travis Childers, D-Booneville, former U.S. Congressman and Democratic nominee in the upcoming U.S. Senate race, spoke out against the “slash and burn” politics he’s seen in the Republican primary for incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran’s U.S. Senate seat.
He said he wants to see equal pay for men and women in Mississippi, a raise in the minimum wage and full support for education and veterans.
Childers wasn’t the only one to mention the heated and sometimes ugly Republican Primary leading up to the U.S. Senate race.
Ron Dickey, D-Horn Lake, who is vying for Alan Nunnelee’s First Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, said he plans to run a conflict-free race.
“Alan Nunnelee isn’t here,” Dickey said of the congressman who is currently undergoing chemotherapy at Johns Hopkins Hospital. “I wish him a speedy recovery… There doesn’t have to be bickering.”
Dickey said he wants to turn from the theme of conflict and confusion and introduce compassion and compromise in to the House of Representatives.
Dickey’s Libertarian opponent, Danny Bedwell of Columbus, said he would like to see a turn from Nationalism and return to a state emphasis on government.
“My goal is to reduce the size, scope and role of the federal government in every area,” Bedwell said. “There is not one aspect of our lives that is not regulated in some manner by some entity in a far-away city, whether that city is Jackson, Mississippi, Washington, D.C., or any other city.”
Outside of national races, state representatives spoke to those in attendance about what they have been up to in the state House and Senate.
District 4 Sen. Rita Potts Parks, R-Corinth, said she was proud of the state for passing laws that will protect conceal carry permit holders, protect religious freedoms and add, “In God We Trust,” to the state seal.
District 2 Rep. Nick Bain, R-Corinth, said he was proud of the laws they have passed to all but eliminate abortion in the state.
District 3 Rep. Trey Arnold, R-Booneville, bragged on the more than 11,000 jobs created over the past three years in Mississippi.
District 1 Rep. Bubba Carpenter, R-Burnsville, said he is most proud of the much-needed pay raise given to Mississippi teachers.
Candidates for Corinth’s chief of police also were in attendance: Ben Gann, Fred Gooch and Ralph Dance.
Other politicians who candidates who spoke Friday were Alcorn County Superintendent of Education Gina Rogers Smith, Corinth Mayor Tommy Irwin, Corinth Alderman Jennifer McCoy, Corinth Alderman J.C. Hill, Chancery Judge John Hatcher, Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert and Circuit Court Judge candidate Dennis Farris.
Former Mississippi Speaker of the House Billy McCoy noted the event has been marked by storms in many of the event’s 35 previous years, but Friday’s weather was nearly perfect.
Hopewell community resident Jon Newcomb said this year was the coolest July 4 in Jacinto he’s ever experienced. He said he tries to attend the event each year because it has such a rich trad-ition.
Beth Whitehurst, executive director of the Jacinto Foundation, said she was happy with the event’s turnout, especially since this year is an off year for political races.