- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—JACKSON — Jimmy Wayne Russell is hoping the second time is the charm as he squares off against first-time candidate Lauren Childers in the Democratic primary for the House District 3 post.

The winner of the Aug. 4 primary will face Republican incumbent William Tracy Arnold of Booneville in the November general election.

Russell ran unsuccessfully for the post in 2011, losing in the Democratic primary. The district, which includes much of Prentiss County and a portion of southern Alcorn, was held for years by Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, before he opted not to seek re-election in 2011 after serving two terms as House speaker.

“Quite frankly, I want to continue the work of Speaker Billy McCoy,” said Childers when asked why she is running.

Childers, 26, might be a first-time candidate, but she is no political newcomer. Her father is Travis Childers, the former longtime chancery clerk of Prentiss County and former U.S. House member for District 1.

“I was 2 when he was first elected,” said Childers, a former Miss Ole Miss. “I really don’t know any other life.”

Russell, 44, is a tree surgeon.

“I feel like I would be the best man to take care of the job and handle the business of the state, moral issues and trying to get programs implemented for the schools, something to help the kids,” Russell said. “Kids finish school, but with no work ethic or knowledge of how to apply what they have learned.

“I would like to see business class made mandatory in schools, teaching fundamentals that will help them in life.”

As far as moral issues, Russell said he is concerned by the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court approving same-sex marriage, though he added there “is not much we can do about it now.”

“Very few people want to see things go against our religion promoted,” he said. “Of course, I am for equal rights for everybody.”

Russell added he would attempt to ensure “no public elected official or state employ will have to participate in anything they believe is against their religion.”

Both Childers and Russell said they support full funding of public education — specifically the Mississippi Adequate Education Program that provides most of the state’s share of the basics to operate local school systems.

“I feel tax dollars used for education is never a waste of money,” Russell said.

Childers said she “absolutely” would vote in November for the citizen-sponsored Initiative 42 that enhances the state’s commitment to funding education.

“I tell people all the time what a hypocrite I would be if I did not support public education when public education always has supported me,” she said.

Russell said he probably would vote for the initiative.

Childers said she decided to run because “I have been a lifelong resident of Prentiss County” and wanted to make sure the concerns of her neighbors were voiced “on the floor of the House.”

Childers said she has been concerned with “watching hospitals across the state close, watching education shortchanged and watching the state retirement system be put in jeopardy.”

When asked about whether she would support expanding Medicaid as is allowed under federal law to provide Medicaid coverage to primary the working poor, Childers said, “I really want to see more access to affordable health care. We have phenomenal hospitals here in Booneville and in Corinth. I want to make sure people have access to health care, and I want to make sure our community hospitals remain strong. We see hospitals closing across the state. I want to make sure that does not happen in District 3. That (expanding Medicaid) is definitely something I want to look into.”

When asked about providing Medicaid coverage to the working poor, Russell said, “I see our working poor people needing it more than a lot of other people. A lot of these poorer-paying jobs can’t afford insurance and other things.”

Arnold, who is unopposed in the August Republican primary, will be asked his thoughts on various issues before the November general election.

[email protected]

Twitter: @BobbyHarrison9

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(c)2015 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)

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