- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Seven candidates are running for three Transportation Commission seats on Nov 3. Here are brief biographies of the candidates:

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CENTRAL DISTRICT

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Mary Coleman, 69, Democrat of Jackson

Occupation: Consultant.

Previous political experience: 21 years in state House of Representatives as a Democrat.

Why she’s running: Coleman wants to be the first woman to sit on the commission. “We need to be looking at ways to open up transportation to further economic development,” she said. Coleman says the department spends more than is fair in Madison and Rankin counties.

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Dick Hall, 77, Republican of Brandon

Occupation: Current transportation commissioner, former business executive

Previous political experience: Was appointed to Transportation Commission in 1999 and has won election four times since. Previously 12 years in state Senate and 12 years in state House of Representatives. Hall, first elected as a Democrat, has been a Republican since 1983.

Why he’s running: Hall said the state needs a plan to maintain the highways it has built. “I want to do something about the funding,” he said. “The cost of highway construction has gone up 300 percent.”

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NORTHERN DISTRICT

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Mike Tagert, 45, Republican of Starkville

Occupation: current transportation commissioner, former administrator of Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority.

Previous Political Experience: Won election to Transportation Commission in nonpartisan February 2011 special election, won November 2011 general election as Republican.

Why he’s running: “We hope that people see the agency as making every effort to be responsive, as well as to develop a vision and plan for the future,” Tagert said. He said the agency needs more revenue to maintain the system it’s built.

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Danny Woods, 54, Democrat of Winona

Occupation: Mortician.

Previous Political Experience: Ran unsuccessfully for Montgomery County Coroner in 2011 as a Democrat.

Why he’s running: Woods said that the state needs to put more effort into beautifying its highways. “Our state is not pretty anymore,” he said. Woods said Mississippi has enough money to maintain roads, but questioned current priorities, such as lawmakers borrowing money to build an aquarium in Gulfport.

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SOUTHERN DISTRICT

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Tom King, 68, Republican of Hattiesburg

Occupation: Current transportation commissioner, former historic restoration consultant.

Previous Political Experience: Won election to Transportation Commission in 2011. Previously 12 years in the state Senate and 7 years in the state House of Representatives.

Why he’s running: “I feel like our commission is working very well together,” King said. He favors more funding for the agency and said he wants to work with the business community and lawmakers to find it.

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Chad Toney, 64, Democrat of Smithdale

Occupation: Retired Department of Transportation employee. Worked as surveyor and then as road and bridge inspector.

Previous Political Experience: Ran unsuccessfully for transportation commissioner in 2007 as a Democrat.

Why he’s running: Toney said that roads are not being built well enough. He says he wants to “build roads that will stand the test of time.” Toney said he wants to increase accountability in the department, and thinks better work would remove the need for more money.

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Sheranda Atkinson, 31, Reform Party of New Augusta

Occupation: Works to help homeless women and children.

Previous Political Experience: None

Why she’s running: Did not respond.


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