BHS student selected senator to Boys Nation

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Brookhaven High School student elected as the governor of the2007 American Legion Boys State convention last week atCopiah-Lincoln Community College has now set his sights on thepresidency.

James Wesley Dennis, 17, of Brookhaven, was one of two delegatesto Boys State elected by his peers as a senator to representMississippi at the 2007 American Legion Boys Nation in Arlington,Va., July 20-28. The other delegate elected as a Boys Nationdelegate, Nathan Nunnelee, of Tupelo, served as the Boys Statelieutenant governor.

“This is the first time the governor and lieutenant governorboth get to go from Mississippi,” Dennis said.

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Dennis said he was excited about representing the state as asenator, but is seriously considering a campaign for the presidencyof the annual session that teaches promising young men aboutgovernment, leadership and politics.

“I’m thinking of running for president when I get up there,” hesaid. “I’m still weighing the pros and cons.”

When asked what the most substantial con would be, Dennislaughed and said, “Losing!”

He quickly turned more serious.

“I think my hardest task will be changing the image of aMississippian in the minds of some of the northern states to getthem to vote for me,” Dennis said.

It was a task real-life candidates must overcome as well, hesaid, and that also provides good experience for an aspiringpolitician – even one who isn’t sure of where his ideology falls inthe political landscape. Dennis said he is not sure whether he is aDemocrat or a Republican.

“I used to be extremely conservative, but I’m more moderatenow,” he said. “It depends on the issues.”

Whether he is elected president or stays a senator, Dennis saidhe is sure of his agenda for Boys Nation.

“I’m writing one good bill and one resolution to debate,” hesaid.

The bill would mandate all public schools educate students insensitivity to the mentally disabled.

“There’s a growing number of mentally disabled people,” Dennissaid, “and we need to be aware of their feelings, their needs, andhow they view their place in the world.”

Dennis said he would also like to see the representatives ofBoys Nation pass his resolution to establish a lottery in eachstate to fund education. A similar law in Georgia has collected$8.8 billion in education funding for the state, he said.

“As a result, everyone with a 3.0 GPA or better can go to anystate college for free,” Dennis said. “That would helpMississippians who can’t afford the tremendous costs of highereducation.”

Dennis is considering other ideas for his agenda, but was notready to disclose them this week.

One of the highlights of the trip, he said, was that he will getto meet the real counterpart to the office he hopes to obtain.

“We get to meet President Bush. I’m excited about that,” Dennissaid.

Delegates to the 2007 session of Boys Nation will also visitArlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Department of State, theWhite House and Capitol Hill.