District 108 election less than a week away
In less than a week, voters in south Pearl River County will be casting their votes for the next Mississippi House District 108 representative.
Tuesday, July 25, a special election will be held to fill the vacancy left when long-time Representative Mark Formby accepted an appointment to the Mississippi Worker’s Compensation Commission in April of this year.
The three candidates vying for the State Representative title in this election are Tavish Cordero Kelly, Jerry W. Frazier and Stacey Hobgood Wilkes, none of whom have held public office before. As explained in previous coverage, because of the special nature of this election all candidates were required to run independently, without party affiliation. However all three candidates have made their political alignment known throughout this campaign.
Here are your candidates for house seat District 108:
Stacey Hobgood Wilkes
“Pearl River County has always been home, and home is where my heart is. I pledge to use my business experience and leadership skills to promote conservative values, advocate for small businesses, increase accountability and fiscal responsibility, and make our community an even better place to live and raise our families.”
Stacey Wilkes, is the daughter of David and Barbara Hobgood. She was born and raised in Picayune and chose to raise her daughter, Caitlin Cruthird, in Picayune as well.
“I love Picayune and Pearl River County. I've lived here all my life. I know the challenges we face in our community and our state. I also know the values that bind us together as a community.”
Wilkes is married to Rodney Wilkes, a former Mississippi Highway Patrolman and State Farm Insurance Agent. Also in the insurance industry, Wilkes has 17 years of experience working with the people of pearl river county, one of her reasons for running for this position.
“My work experience has definitely given me the tools I need to be a successful state representative,” Wilkes said. “Working in insurance with the public, especially after Hurricane Katrina has equipped me to be your successful state representative.”
A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Wilkes holds a Bachelor of Science degree in American Studies and a minor in Business Administration and is the managing owner of Right Minded, LLC, a public relations consultancy, while still holding her agent and adjuster’s insurance licenses.
She currently serves on the State Executive Committee of the Mississippi Republican Party and on the Pearl River County Republican Executive Committee. She is president of the Pearl River County Republican Women and had the privilege of served as a delegate to the Mississippi State Republican Convention last year.
Wilkes stated that she is an advocate for rural health and serves on the Legislative Committee of the Mississippi Rural Health Association and on the Board of the Senior Center of South Pearl River County.
“I've worked alongside community health providers and know how to make positive cost effective policy changes in healthcare,” Wilkes said. “Which is one of the greatest challenges we have.”
Wilkes is a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Award, and a past Rotary Club president. She is a life member of the Picayune Junior Auxiliary, a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and an active member of First Baptist Church of Picayune.
“Raising my daughter here, my work experience, my civic involvement; these have all given me the tools I need to be your successful state representative,” Wilkes said. “I’m asking you for your vote on July 25, and most importantly for your prayers that God will guide every decision if I'm elected to this position.”
Jerry W. Frazier
“I promise to provide honest leadership taking into consideration the needs of the many and not just select special interests. I believe in limited government involvement in our private lives.”
Jerry Frazier has been a resident of Carriere, MS for the past 25 years and is married to life long resident Coranell (Nixon) Frazier. Along with his wife, Frazier has raised three daughters in Pearl River County. He also has two grandchildren and two god children.
Frazier has served as a Deacon at New Hebron baptist church for the past 11 years and has functioned as the assistant Sunday School Superintendent, Sunday School Teacher, and Church Financial Clerk.
“Service is a part of my life.” Frazier said. “My wife and daughter are educators (in Pearl River County) and I understand the needs for good school systems.”
Frazier explained the need to pull Mississippi from the bottom of educational rankings, stating that, that is the only way to give students the best chance at job opportunities. Frazier hopes that by gaining inside information into education spending, he could address the issue of under-achievement, if elected.
Frazier is a 1981 graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, formerly known as Northeast Louisiana University. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Residential and Commercial Construction and has worked over 36 years for Chevron USA where his last position was Health Environment and Safety Advisor for Drilling Operations, before his retirement in 2017.
Prior to that Frazier was the Health Environment and Safety Supervisor for Logistic Operations and held a Certified Safety Professional certification (the highest safety designation possible).
“During my time with Chevron, core values such as sound business decision making, community involvement, diversity and inclusion, and building coalitions
with all business partners both large and small were cultivated,” Frazier said. “I have demonstrated my ability to commit and willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve desired results.”
Frazier believes that his time in the private sector has honed his leadership skills and positioned him to take advantage of the skill sets of all who govern.
“The overwhelming support I have received since announcing my plans to run for public office is more confirmation that the great task that has been presented to me is guided by a higher calling,” Frazier said. “I would be honored to serve as your representative and humbly ask for your support."
Tavish Cordero Kelly
"The answer to every problem is not to raise taxes. I will never vote to increase taxes. I will always stand up to defend the rights of the unborn, the right to bear arms, and the personal freedoms that we enjoy.”
Tavish Kelly, the youngest of the candidates at 27 years-old, is a native and resident of Pearl River County. He is co-owner of Kelly’s firearms, a family business located in Picayune, that holds the distinction of manufacturing Mississippi’s first production rifle.
“I’m proud of the business my family has built right here in Picayune,” Kelly said. “I’m confident that with the right leadership, Picayune can continue to grow.”
Kelly is an Eagle Scout and a former Chairman and Executive Committee member of the Pearl River County Republican Party, Tavis says that defending conservative values will be one of his top priorities. Although he was accused of being a libertarian, Kelly’s platform aligns with that of a conservative Republican.
“Philosophically I do have libertarian beliefs but it’s like what Ronald Reagan said at the heart of conservatism is libertarianism,” Kelly explained. “Some people misunderstood that as associating with the libertarian party which is a separate thing entirely there are plenty of libertarian republicans who are basically pro freedom, people like Senator Rand Paul.”
Kelly, who campaigned for Rand Paul last year, believes that lowering and getting rid of taxes is key and expressed that local job growth, local control of education, and smart economic development are the major components of his platform.
“The fastest growing states in the country have low taxes and simple taxes, they don't tax a lot of things and the things they do tax they don’t tax much, we’ve got property taxes, income taxes inventory taxes, you name it mississippi taxes it. That strangles businesses,” Kelly said. “As a local business owner, I’ve seen firsthand the growth our area has experienced since Katrina. We’re in a great position to build on this growth, but we need leadership that understands how to pursue smart economic development – where the costs don’t outweigh the benefits.”
Absentee voting for this election is currently underway and will continue till Saturday, July 22 at 12:00pm. Election Day is July 25, polls will be open from 7am to 7pm.