Republican Ben Suber and Democrat Kegan Coleman are competing to fill the vacant Mississippi State Senate District 8 seat on Tuesday as part of the state’s general election.

Both candidates are attorneys and are political newcomers. Suber is from Bruce and Coleman is from Calhoun City.

Suber has run a campaign centered around expanding vocational education in public schools and increasing mental health care access to people who have been charged and convicted of drug offenses.

“The big thing I’ve heard lately is a lot of folks are wanting to know where the money is going to come from to fix roads and bridges and fund education,” Suber said.

Suber said he plans to solve this problem by collaborating with other legislators to figure out ways for state agencies to reduce their budget by removing wasteful spending.

Coleman is running to make sure smaller municipalities in the state have access to the same resources and opportunities as residents of larger cities and areas.

One way Coleman plans to do this is by helping more rural areas have access to rural broadband in hopes that more businesses will locate to smaller areas.

“That doesn’t help municipal-owned entities like in Okolona,” Coleman said. “I’m looking at different organizations to help out with this.”

Coleman is also campaigning on finding ways to help rural hospitals stay open and making it more financially feasible for healthcare centers to operate in smaller towns.

“I want to work with our local hospitals to see if we can make a coordinated effort and coordinate that through policy and see if we can not only provide resources for them but make them see this is financially in their best interest to be here from Okolona, Houlka and Calhoun City,” he said.

Suber wants to look at healthcare issues to provide better and more affordable healthcare to people, but he doesn’t want to advocate for complete Medicaid expansion. Suber said he does want people who are employed to be able to afford health insurance, however.

“I’ve got a secretary who has never had healthcare ever,” Suber said. “She’s looking for other options and other jobs. I want to look more into this. We can’t have this hospitals closing.”

Suber also wants to look at increasing funding for the state’s mental health care budget to ensure people are not sitting in jail waiting for health care treatment.

“That fund has just been slashed over the years,” Suber said.

District 8 became vacant when Democratic state Sen. Russell Jolly announced he would not seek reelection. Coleman and Suber will face off in the state’s general election on Tuesday.

taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @taylor_vance28

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