Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – A former mayor and a political newcomer are vying to win Tuesday’s special election to fill the vacant state House District 5 post.
Andre DeBerry, the former mayor of Holly Springs, and John Gary Faulkner, youth court counselor in Marshall County, topped a seven-candidate field in the Nov. 5 special election. But neither garnered a majority of the vote, forcing Tuesday’s runoff.
In special elections to fill legislative vacancies, candidates run without party identification but both said, if elected, they will seek re-election in 2015 as Democrats. The two are vying to replace Kelvin Buck, who resigned from the House District 5 seat at the end of June, after defeating DeBerry earlier for mayor of Holly Springs, which is the largest municipality in the district that encompasses most of Marshall County and a portion of western Benton County.
DeBerry said running for the seat “is my way of trying to do something to improve the quality of life of Marshall and Benton counties and hopefully have a positive impact on the state as well – hopefully moving the state in a progressive direction as far as education, technology and in other areas.”
Faulkner said, “I have been involved in the community for the past 15 years since coming back home from the military. I have been involved behind the scenes trying to improve the quality of life of the community.”
Faulkner said he became interested in the position while serving as campaign manager for Buck’s mayoral effort when people asked who would replace Buck in Jackson if he won the municipal post.
Faulkner, who was a sergeant in Army, said his military background taught him the value of teamwork, a trait that would be of value in the legislative process.
Both candidates said education will be a focus. DeBerry said the state should put more of a focus on early childhood education and on the individual accountability of each student.
Faulkner said he will focus on improving roads and bridges in the district.
Faulkner said he would consider the expansion of Medicaid as part of the federal Affordable Care Act, and at the very least would oppose a reduction in Medicaid.
DeBerry said, “When you look at the health delivery system in the state and the number of people who do not have care, you must look at the expansion of Medicaid.”
DeBerry led the first election earlier this month with 959 votes, or 38 percent, to 587, or 23 percent, for Faulkner. Both are Marshall County natives. DeBerry, 55, served 12 years as mayor and previously was the alderman at-large. Faulkner, 48, joined the military after high school and served for 13 years.