Make a difference, future leaders told

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

WESSON – Speaking Monday evening to American Legion Boys Statedelegates at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, state Rep. GeorgeFlaggs touted the importance of education and seizing opportunitiesin life.

“I firmly believe education is the key to success,” Flaggs said.Flaggs,

Flaggs briefly touched on the education funding struggle duringthe recent Legislative special session.

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“Children and education should not be part of a politicalparty,” Flaggs said. “Everyone should want what’s best foreducation because it is right.”

Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, was the first speaker during the week-longevent where more than 350 rising juniors will learn aboutgovernment and politics through a variety of hands-on activities.He encouraged the students to take advantage of the Boys Stateopportunity and use it to help make government better.

“I believe good government should always be available to thepublic,” Flaggs said.

Flaggs also addressed his controversial image in theLegislature. He said he is willing to speak up and fight for whathe believes in.

“I believe the end result is it will make Mississippi better,”Flaggs said.

Relaying some of his own experiences, Flaggs said studentsshould strive to make a difference and leave something better thanthey found it.

“That is what government and politics are all about,” Flaggssaid.

Following his speech, the veteran lawmaker was quizzed on avariety of topics, most dealing with aspects of political life. Hesaid dealing with various personalities is one of the hardest partsabout being in the Legislature.

Flaggs acknowledged the recent rise of two parties inMississippi politics. Since the rise of two parties, he saidpolitical discussions have been less about race than in thepast.

“Partisan politics does not bother me,” Flaggs said. “I thinkit’s good for the state.”

However, Flaggs said everyone should be able to move beyondpetty bickering after a vote is taken.

“Everybody has a right to their position,” Flaggs said.

Flaggs said he believes Mississippi will always have politicalparties. He urged students to line up with the party they identifywith, but to be willing to try and find agreement on issues.

“On issues, there’s always room for compromise,” Flaggssaid.

Among legislative issues discussed, Flaggs was questioned aboutthe state’s recent efforts regarding civil justice or tort reform.The lawmaker advised caution in revisiting the issue until thechanges have an opportunity to take effect.

“I think we need to leave it alone for a while and see how itworks,” Flaggs said.

Flaggs was the first of several state officials scheduled tospeak to delegates this week. Steve Guyton, Boys State publicrelations officer, said the delegates were looking forward hearingGov. Haley Barbour and Secretary of State Eric Clark today andothers throughout the rest of the week.

“We’ve got a good week lined up,” Guyton said.