By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
On Nov. 8, voters in Senate District 8 will have an opportunity to vote for Democrat Russell Jolly or Republican Patsy Gregory not once, but twice.
The pair will compete against each other in the general election for the new four-year term that begins in January. But they also are competing to finish the rest of the current term, which lasts only the rest of the year.
The post is vacant because longtime District 8 Sen. Jack Gordon, D-Okolona, died earlier this year. Calhoun City Alderman Marshall Coleman also is on the special election ballot for the rest of the year.
Jolly defeated Coleman in the August Democratic primary for the full four-year term.
Gregory, the former executive director of the Okolona Chamber of Commerce, said if elected she will strive to ensure the area has a trained workforce and to have programs to help teach parents how to prepare their children for kindergarten.
“I want to bring economic development, create jobs… work toward a more efficient government,” she said.
Jolly said, “I am big in public schools. We are public school people. I think we need to adequately fund the public schools, but also make sure they are accountable.”
Jolly is a Chickasaw County cattleman and president of the county Farm Bureau. “I have strong conservative values. I want to make common sense decisions to help the district and the state,” he said.
Gregory said she is meeting with the voters of the district “to find out their needs.”
Both said they would oppose making changes to the Public Employee Retirement System that would negatively impact the benefits of retired workers or current employees. Gregory said she agrees with the position taken by the Legislative Budget Committee, chaired by Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, not to alter the annual cost of living adjustment retirees receive.
Jolly also said he would oppose efforts to remove state Personnel Board or civil service protection for state employees. Gregory said she wants to study that issue before making a commitment. Gov. Haley Barbour proposed removing civil service protection during the past term.