TUPELO • With members of the Mississippi Legislature set to take a new oath of office in a few days, incoming state Sen. Kathy Chism, a Republican from New Albany, hopes to spend the next four years advocating for improvements to the state’s public education system.
Chism, a native of Myrtle, is a business owner and Realtor and said she initially wanted to run because she cares “about the people of District 3” and believed she could bring a hard work ethic to the state’s law making body.
“I’m concerned, just like all citizens, about education, and I’m concerned for the rights of the Second Amendment,” Chism said.
Specifically on education, Chism said public educators deserve a salary increase, but she believes more money should be “spent in the classroom and not in administration.”
An example of this would be establishing a statewide public pre-K that would provide better education opportunities for Mississippi children, according to Chism.
She also thinks state government could do more to bolster career and technical programs within public school systems to ensure that there are other employment opportunities available for people who do not wish to attend a four-year university after graduating from high school.
“We need to bring (trade skills) back into the schools,” she said. “Not everybody wants to sit behind a desk or be a doctor or a lawyer.”
She did not offer any specific thoughts or solutions to the issues of fixing the state’s deteriorating infrastructure or how access to healthcare can be improved in the state, although she noted she was concerned about those policy topics. She told the Daily Journal she wants to wait until she is sworn into office before she elaborates on potential solutions to these issues or how to improve them.
“There’s a lot of pros and cons that I have not heard,” Chism said. “Being new in the Legislature, there are a lot of things I need to look at.”
Chism said she would like to be transparent and someone constituents can call to discuss policy issues.
“I’d like to ask the people of every district to pray for (the legislators),” she said.
Chism’s district includes portions of Benton, Pontotoc and Union counties. She won the seat after defeating Kevin Walls in the Republican primary and defeating Tim Tucker in the general election. The seat became open last year when longtime state Sen. Nickey Browning announced he was not running for re-election.