JACINTO • Candidates for governor shared differing visions of job growth and public education at the state’s second largest political rally tucked away in a small corner of Alcorn County on Thursday.

Bill Waller, the former chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, said the state must give public educators a pay raise, repair roads and bridges and expand healthcare in order for the economy to grow at a substantial rate

Waller said he was going to ask the legislature to increase teacher salaries “every year” until they go up to where they’re comparable to other teacher salaries in the Southeast.

State Rep. Robert Foster, another Republican candidate, touted his experience as a business owner and had a different approach to the economy saying the state should adopt a flat tax structure to allow more businesses to come to the state and have more young people state in the state.

He also said the state needs to reorganize its public education system to where there’s not a one track path for every student.

“We’ve got to put votech back into the schools,” Foster said. “Everybody’s not meant to go to college.”

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, the third GOP candidate, differed from the rest of his Republican opponents and attacked Attorney General Jim Hood and associated him with “the party of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.” Reeves said his vision for the state was growing the economy and having a fiscally responsible government.

“We have to have a tax bill that is fair and flat for everyone.”

Jim Hood, the current Attorney General, said he hopes to implement a greater focus on community colleges in the state to make education more accessible to students and set up an apprenticeship program in order to keep more college graduates in the state and to help eliminate student debt.

However, Hood said one of the major reforms that has to occur in the state is in the state legislature, where he advocated for members of the legislature being subject to the state’s public records act, banning legislators from taking contributions from businesses while they’re in session

“We have to clean up our legislature,” Hood said. “We have to ban them from taking corporation donations. We can clean up our state government if we open up their records.”

Other candidates at the event were Lynn Fitch, Mark Baker, Jennifer Collins and Andy Taggert, who are all candidates for Attorney General. The candidates discussed defending the state from lawsuits over abortion restrictions and combatting the opioid crisis.

Other candidates were state Rep. Jay Hughes campaigning for Lieutenant Governor; David McRae and state Sen. Buck Clark campaigning for State Treasurer and Geoffrey Yoste, Jeremy Martin and John Caldwell campaigning for Transportation Commissioner.

Beth Whitehurst, the director of the Jacinto Foundation, said she was pleased and thankful for the large crowd at the event. She said she doesn’t quite know how the tradition of the political rally even began — but she’s extremely glad it started.

“If you want to win statewide office in Mississippi you have to go to the Neshoba County Fair and Jacinto,” she said.

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