By Alyssa Schnugg
More than 140 people attended a town hall meeting held by U.S. Senate Democratic candidate David Baria Monday night, leaving standing room only inside the Stone Center in Oxford.
Baria, a civil rights and trial attorney, represents District 122 in the Mississippi House of Representatives and serves as the House Minority Leader. He has also served in the Mississippi Senate.
“He’s a true blue real Democrat … I’m so appreciative of that,” said Lafayette County Democratic Party chair Cristen Hemmins.
Baria spoke for about two hours, answering questions from the people present and from those watching the meeting via Facebook Live.
Questions from the audience included Baria’s thoughts on ways to reduce student debt, immigration, police brutality, soybean tariffs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Medicaid expansion.
Baria also condemned his opponent, incumbent Tupelo Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker for not accepting any of his invitations to attend town hall meetings that Baria has held across the state.
“As a public servant, it’s his job to be here to answer to his constituents,” Baria said.
Baria said there are three “huge” issues facing Mississippi – public education, healthcare and infrastructure.
“If you drive in Oxford you’d never think we had an infrastructure problem,” he told the crowd. “But if you drive out of Oxford you’re going to hit some potholes. Or you’re going to see a bridge that was closed and you can’t go across. We’re one busload of children away from a tragedy.”
Baria will also face Danny Bedwell (Libertarian), and Shawn O’Hara (Reform) during the general election that is one of two Senate elections in Mississippi this November. A special election also will be held to fill the post vacated by Thad Cochran in March for health reasons.
In that election, interim appointee Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, a Democrat, and Tobey Bartee, a Gautier Democrat, are running.