Two more signing up in Senate race

Published 8:26 pm Friday, February 11, 2011

Two more Brookhavenites are launching campaigns aimed at theMississippi Senate.

Republican Sally Doty, 44, and 47-year-old Democrat MichaelSmith have announced their candidacies for the Senate in District39, a seat that serves all of Lincoln and Lawrence counties andsome of Simpson County.

They are the second and third candidates to make a run for theseat being vacated by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Brookhaven, who willcampaign to become the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce.Brookhaven attorney Bill Boerner said Wednesday he would run forthe seat as a Republican.

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“I think I’m getting back to something I’ve always wanted to do,and something I think I’m suited well for,” Doty said. “I like tolisten to people, I like to talk to people. I’ve always had apassion for politics and wanted to get involved in it.”

Doty, an inactive attorney, said her top issues as a senatorwould be education and economic development.

“I think we have some great educational institutions, and weneed to protect them and provide them with everything they need,”she said. “I understand some cuts have to be made, but I would liketo be a part of the decision-making process as these very toughdecisions are made about where we’re going to put our money.”

Doty is a 1984 graduate of Kosciusko High School and a 1988graduate of the Mississippi University for Women, where she leftwith a bachelor’s degree in business administration. It was at theW that her interest in the political process began.

“My sophomore year the College Board voted to close the W. Beinga good W student, I spent a good bit of time that year at theLegislature during the session, and I really got to see theday-to-day process,” Doty said. “Because of that is really why Imade the decision to go to law school. I really planned to be partof the political process.”

Doty went on to graduate from the Mississippi College School ofLaw with honors in 1991 and began practicing law in Jackson. Shereturned to MC to serve as the law school’s director of legalwriting in 1993.

In 1997, a year after moving to Brookhaven, she left MC to workwith Bob Allen’s law office, then known as Allen Allen Boerner andBreeland. She stopped practicing law in 2005 to spend more timewith her family.

Doty is married to Brookhaven dentist Dr. Don Doty. They havethree children.

Smith, meanwhile, becomes the only Democrat to qualify inDistrict 39 so far. He said his time as an independent lobbyist hasprepared him to serve as a senator in Southwest Mississippi.

“I’ve been working with the Legislature for the last five years.I’m one of those behind-the-scenes people working for LincolnCounty and Mississippi, trying to get quality legislation passed,”he said. “I have the experience and qualifications to carryDistrict 39 farther.”

Smith said his priority issue if elected would be economicdevelopment.

“We need business and industries coming here. There’s just notenough jobs in Southwest Mississippi to supply the demand,” hesaid.

In his time as a lobbyist, Smith said he’s worked on economicdevelopment and wildlife issues, fighting to lure industry andprotect hunting and gun rights.

Despite qualifying as a Democrat, Smith said he’s worked oncampaigns from both parties.

“In my experience, there is no difference. We all look at thingsthe same way,” he said.

Born and raised in Lincoln County, Smith attended Loyd Star as achild and eventually graduated from Hiram W. Johnson High School inSacramento, Calif., in 1980. Moving back home, he worked as afirefighter for the Brookhaven Fire Department before leaving toget involved in politics with various federal and state agencies,including the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries andParks.

He and his wife, Gwendolyn, have been married for 17 years. Theyhave four children.

The addition of Doty and Smith brings the number of localcandidates to qualify for county, district and statewide officesthis year to 38. Qualifying for local offices ends March 1, whiledistrict and statewide candidates have until June 1.

This year’s primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 2, with runoffs onAug. 23 if necessary. The general election falls on Nov. 8.