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2 Brookhaven men in runoff for Senate

Two Brookhaven men will face off in an Oct. 13 runoff for the Mississippi legislature.

Voters in Mississippi Senate District 39 turned out in smaller than anticipated numbers Tuesday to cast their votes for a new senator to take the place of Sally Doty of Brookhaven, who resigned in July.

Attorney Jason Barrett and retired banker Bill Sones Sr. led the pack of nine candidates, each finishing the night within one percentage point of the other in total number of votes.

In two weeks, voters will return to the polls to vote once again — either bolstering their earlier choice, perhaps switching sides or taking the vote they placed for a candidate who did not advance and casting it now in support of Barrett or Sones.

Barrett, a member of Heucks Retreat Baptist Church, describes himself as a pro-life conservative Republican “who believes government should be run from the citizens up, not bureaucracy down.” He is a supporter of “our constitutional rights, religious liberty, the right to vote and the right to keep and bear arms,” and is against “big government, over-regulation (and) tax increases” — things he says are worth fighting for.

Infrastructure, economy, jobs, education, healthcare and rural broadband are all issues Barrett says he will fight for, as well.

Sones, a member of First Baptist Church Brookhaven, describes himself as “a pro-life, second amendment supporting, conservative Republican.” He is a supporter of “religious and personal liberty, a great economy, an excellent healthcare system and a strong education system,” and says he has spent his entire career fighting for those issues locally.

Barrett cites his education; experience as an attorney, teacher and coach, and small business owner.

“I know the struggles faced by many individuals, the ever-growing needs of our communities and how government operates,” Barrett said. “I understand Mississippi laws and will apply that knowledge to review and write bills to help improve our district … I have a first-hand understanding of the economic needs within our community … I understand the concerns and frustrations within our education system (and) I know the importance of having safe communities for our families and economic development.”

Sones cites his experience of serving the community in economic development, healthcare, finance and quality of life as background for serving as a senator.

“I have years of experience serving our community in economic development, healthcare, finance and quality of life,” Sones said. “I am a believer, businessman, banker and entrepreneur.”

Both Mississippi College graduates, neither man has held political office previously.

Barrett told The Daily Leader he is dedicated to protecting rights and families, including the unborn, always being accessible to the public. He said he is pro-military and pro-law enforcement, and will always be transparent, make the tough decisions and keep his word.

Sones said his leadership qualities are proven in his business experience, including his involvement with King’s Daughters Medical Center, Industrial Development Foundation, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, Untied Way, Civic Center Foundation and Mississippi School of the Arts Foundation. He told The Daily Leader his great work ethic, lots of energy and strong convictions rooted in his faith have “uniquely prepared” him to represent the district.

Challenges and

proposed solutions

Barrett named five issues as the biggest challenges currently facing Southwest and Central Mississippi and proposed solutions:

• Education — Quality education for students and placing teacher salaries, supply funds and secure benefits at the forefront is essential. We must ensure adequate funding to help school districts flourish, prepare students for success and provide teachers with promised pay raises.

• Healthcare — Accessible, affordable healthcare, especially for our most vulnerable residents and veterans, is crucial. And while funding for our rural hospitals is vital for them to remain operational and provide essential health services to our communities, increased pay for nurses is also vital so that we can stop losing good healthcare workers to better paying jobs in surrounding states.

• Infrastructure — We know that safe roads and bridges are necessary for economic development, work and school. Through fiscal responsibility and reevaluating sources of revenue, I believe we can find the needed funding for repairs without increasing taxes. I am committed to working with municipal and county officials throughout the district to address all infrastructure needs, from roads, bridges, and potholes to utility and fire services. 

• Economy/jobs — Small businesses are the cornerstones of our communities and good jobs are necessary for the health and well-being of our families. We need to reopen the economy and continue to strengthen workforce development through programs like ReSkillMS as part of our economic recovery plan so that we emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.

• Rural broadband — High speed internet is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity due to distance learning, telemedicine, telecommuting and small businesses. Working closely with electric co-ops and state agencies will help secure needed grants to expand rural broadband in our area.   

Sones named several challenges, as well, and his proposed answers:

• Workforce development is a vital issue that has been strongly addressed over the past few years. I am so proud of our community college system, in particular the Copiah-Lincoln Community College and their work in this very important issue. I will continue to support and build on that to prepare our district for economic development.

• We always seem to be last in education, healthcare, economic development and infrastructure, etc. I don’t pretend to have answers to all of these challenges that need to be dealt with. However, once elected, I will study in-depth the overall state budget to determine how they can be addressed.

• Our freedoms and constitutional rights are constantly being threatened by big government. I will steadfastly defend those rights.

Parting words

“Your family, your children, our small businesses, our communities, our future generations, and your voice at the ballot box are worth fighting for,” Barrett said.

“When praying about the decision to run …, I kept coming back to not only the futures of my 21 grandchildren but every child’s future who lives in this district,” Sones said.