- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

PONTOTOC, Miss. (AP) - Twelve of the 13 candidates running in a special election in Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District appeared Tuesday at an event in Pontotoc.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1H4iVjr ) the candidates had six minutes each to speak to the crowd. The speeches covered a range of topics including reforming tax codes to lowering the national debt.

Although candidates run without party labels in special elections, most in the race identify as Republicans. One of them, Walter Zinn, is a Democrat.

The winner will succeed the late Republican Rep. Alan Nunnelee, who died of brain cancer in early February. Nunnelee was first elected in 2010, after serving 15 years as a state senator from Tupelo.

The special election is May 12, and a runoff is June 2. The winner will serve most of the two-year term that Nunnelee started in January.

Columbus businessman Boyce Adams touted his experience as a small Mississippi business owner that has allowed him to see firsthand the burden and challenges regulations are placing on Mississippians every day.

“We have a great opportunity to get this country back on track, to get America back to work and to get Mississippi back to work,” Adams said.

Republican state Sen. Nancy Collins of Tupelo emphasized her experience in state government and proven voting record for conservative values, but said she doesn’t consider herself a career politician as much as someone who has held a variety of careers in her lifetime.

“I stood up to politicians in Jackson, and I’ll do the same in Washington,” Collins said.

Tupelo dentist Ed Holliday emphasized his constitutional conservative values, such as protecting the sanctity of life and the definition of marriage being between a man and a woman.

“When Washington is not working, the worst thing we can do is to send another politician to Washington,” Holliday said.

Emergency room physician Dr. Starner Jones of Pontotoc told his hometown crowd about his experiences in helping and fixing people in the medical profession could translate to the same in Washington by taking on those responsibilities from a new perspective, not as a politician.

“America is in a state of crisis,” Jones said. “These politicians aren’t fixing a thing.”

District Attorney Trent Kelly of Saltillo touted his military and combat service as giving him the on-the-ground experience needed to make tough decisions in Washington, but quickly clarified that those decisions would be made using his strong religious beliefs.

“I love this great nation. We’re not broke. We’re not perfect, but we can get back on the right track,” Kelly said.

Itawamba County prosecuting attorney Chip Mills ran through a list of issues the previous candidates spoke on saying he agreed with all of them, including the need to elect someone to the position that will make different decisions.

“Politics as usual has not helped in Washington to get us to where we are today,” Mills said. “Politics as usual has slowed down this country’s growth.”

Tupelo attorney Greg Pirkle used his experience in practicing law with an emphasis on tax law to say that he has seen firsthand the impact of the current tax code and would be the best fit to help rewrite those codes.

“Instead of making the United States a safe haven, it’s become a detriment to new business,” Pirkle said.

Eupora lawyer Henry Ross stressed a need to get America back to the way it was intended to be operated with a heavy focus on the U.S. Constitution and no deviation from those principles.

“We can be great again if we follow these things and restore what America is all about,” Ross said.

Belmont attorney Daniel Sparks told the crowd his business experience, which he places above his law experience, will allow him to cut government restraints on Mississippi businesses and even educators.

“Our greatest days are ahead of us with sacrifice and work,” Sparks said.

Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert also touted his military and service record, as well as what he sees as limited involvement in politics, as benefits to allowing him to best service 1st District residents.

“Is this good for the people of the 1st Congressional District? That’s the litmus test I will use,” Tagert said.

Oxford attorney Quentin Whitwell used his background in law, business and health care to tell the crowd he’s seen firsthand the values and things Mississippians hold dear and would work to make decisions on their behalf.

“If you’re nice enough to elect me to Washington, I’m going to work every day to make sure the principles all of us have talked about are represented,” Whitwell said.

Zinn, a Pontotoc attorney, said spoke of his desire to see Mississippi rise from the bottom of so many “last lists” to being a No. 1 powerhouse in a variety of fields, including industry and education.

“I desire to make Mississippi first by looking forward instead of looking backward,” Zinn said.

Chance Lewis, a Columbus resident, spoke on behalf of Columbus businessman Sam Adcock as a volunteer supporter of the campaign, saying Adcock is advocating three different types of security in his campaign: national security, economic security and financial security.

“Real and simplified tax reform is needed. We can’t keep letting Obama hit us in the gut,” Lewis said quoting a statement from Adcock.


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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