By Jeremy Hart
On Wednesday, a panel of gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidates spoke to the Mississippi State University community in a forum in the Bettersworth Auditorium of Lee Hall moderated by MSU journalist in residence Sid Salter.
Rhett Hobart, SA president who welcomed the candidates to the forum, said the forum was a great opportunity to see the leadership Mississippi will have in the future and was beneficial to students as people who will be entering the workforce in the future.
"This gave us an opportunity to see the people who will lead our state so we can be more educated when we go vote," he said.
The two candidates for the position of lieutenant governor are Billy Hewes, Senate President Pro-Tempore, and Tate Reeves, Treasurer.
Speaking to the media before the forum, Reeves said he promised in 2003 taxpayers would be looked after and said he will continue to do that.
"I intend to continue serving as a watchdog for taxpayers," Reeves said. "We need a lieutenant governor who has a background in economics and finance, who understands how businesses work and someone with the leadership capabilities to make a difference."
He said leaders chosen in this election will make decisions that affect college students for the rest of their lives.
Reeves said he is a Republican and pro-life conservative who believes the most important issue facing Mississippi today is the effort to bring in better and higher-paying jobs.
The only way to do that is to improve the education attainment level of citizens to provide a workforce that encourages small businesses to invest, he said.
Reeves's opponent Billy Hewes, also a Republican, said people want someone representing them who has faced the same issues they face every day.
"The main component, as far as what people are looking for, is someone who has the temperament, ability and experience to lead Mississippi forward," Hewes said.
He said college students face the same concerns as other adults: making ends meet and finding jobs after graduation. Hewes said in his 20 years of legislative experience he has created thousands of jobs in the private sector.
"I still remain concerned about the economic ability to live within our means, not overspend tax dollars and continue to bring good jobs to Mississippians," he said. "My legislative experience combined with my experience as a businessman, having been married for 25 years and raising four children with two now in college has given me a unique perspective when making decisions affecting the lives of Mississippians."
The seven gubernatorial candidates spoke next, answering questions posed by a student questions committee.
Bill Compton, Jr. said he supports health care reform and wants to fund education and the tax commission fully. He also said he supports balancing the budget and fighting corruption.
Dave Dennis said there will be a leadership void after Haley Barbour leaves office and the state needs someone who can create jobs. Dennis said the key to job creation is fostering an environment for success.
Hattiesburg mayor Johnny Dupree said health care reform is a step in the right direction but further improvements could be made and said it is critical to increase state revenue.
Supervisor Hudson Holliday said he does not want to see the federal government given any more power. Holliday also said the future is full of opportunities and the state needs a strong leader.
Bill Luckett said he believes early childhood education is critical and can be improved and also said priorities must be established, with education being the foremost.
Guy Shaw said he has a history as tax assessor and, if elected, wants to see the state budget handled wisely.
Ron Williams said he plans to put the state back into the hands of the working taxpayers. He wants to fight health care reform and make Mississippi more attractive to outside businesses.