By Julia Peoples
The General Election for Mississippi will be held on Nov. 5, 2019. This year, elections will be held for the governor, all 52 state Senate seats, and all 122 House seats.
State Senate District 9 contains Lafayette and Panola counties. The race for this seat consists of two candidates from Oxford. Nicole Akins Boyd is running as the Republican candidate, and Kevin Frye is running as the Democratic candidate.
The two have both been campaigning tirelessly, and HottyToddy.Com had the opportunity to interview both of them regarding their ideas for our district.
Boyd feels that her entire career path has led her to this moment, from her work with the Attorney General’s office to the non-profit she began to help reduce teenage smoking rates.
“I have had the opportunity to work with the legislature and go learn that process extensively. I wrote laws and I can see them still in effect today. I see how they’ve been advantageous to others,” Boyd said. “I also became the executive director of a private non-profit. That spearheaded the forming of coalitions across the state, which led me to work with communities and allowed me to see that each community is unique. “
Frye, on the other hand, decided to run because his position as a Lafayette County Supervisor and local planning experience led him to realize that he would like to see some changes in how the legislature works with communities.
“Having served as a supervisor, I can say with confidence that the state is not supporting local communities as it should be. I felt that if we were going to get the state to engage with communities, we needed somebody who had served in local office that understands why that’s important,” Frye said. “There are 52 senators, and only two are former county supervisors.”
When asked why they felt they would be the best candidate for office, Boyd and Frye spoke about the attributes they believed would best help them advocate for their constituents.
“The senator for District 9 is member one of 52. You have to be able to get along with your colleagues. You have to be able to advocate your positions for your people. The Republicans are going to have a supermajority with or without me,” Boyd said. “I’m the Republican candidate. I will be the person at the table to most effectively advocate for the dollars to bring here.”
Frye said it is his local community involvement that puts him ahead.
“Our community is growing rapidly,” he said. “Projections are that we will add 40,000 residents over the next 20 years. We don’t have time to elect someone that has to learn what’s going on. We must elect someone who has been involved, is prepared, is confident in their knowledge and experience and has proven an ability to both work across the aisle and accomplish difficult tasks. I have proven that ability in our community. We need someone who has the ability to move the conversation in Jackson, and that person is me.”
Both Boyd and Frye agree that the educational system needs work, and both said improving the system will be their first move if elected.
“First, we need to raise our teacher salaries to the southeastern average,” Boyd said. “I have been in school districts across the state, and I know that the walls may be crumbling, the district may have received a bad grade, but if I have a great teacher for the child I am advocating for, that child will have a successful year. We have to value teachers as a society and stabilize our education workforce.”
Boyd also referenced “the continued funding and expansion of pre-k across the state” and “valuing career technical education across the state.”
Frye said that his first move would be “early childhood education.
“For every dollar you invest in kids under kindergarten age you get a 13-percent return. It improves healthcare outcomes, the economy, even criminal justice issues. Alabama puts in 100 million dollars a year too early childhood education. Last year, Mississippi put in 6.7 million.”
Both candidates also feel that Lafayette County’s infrastructure needs work and that our state needs to step up and send dollars to help repair roads and bridges in the county.
“Our roadways our too crowded, they are dangerous at this point. You go to other university communities south of here, and the infrastructure is much more developed,” Boyd said. “The 7/9 split is dangerous. Highway 7 was set to be four-laned, it has been basically taken off the list now. There are five projects in the five-year plan in the Mississippi Department of Transportation for Lafayette County. That is completely inappropriate. This is one of the fastest-growing communities in the state.”
Frye agreed with Boyd that the widening of Highway 7 is of utmost importance to Lafayette County residents.
“Highway 7 has been promised to be four-laned for decades,” Frye said, agreeing with Boyd. “It is a necessity for our community not just for economic reasons, but also for safety reasons. Having served on the board of supervisors, I know what it takes to get infrastructure projects done. We built West Oxford Loop and the Sisk Avenue Extension over the past four years. I know the process and how to get that done, and it’s time we get Highway 7 to four lanes.”
Regarding economic planning, the two take different approaches.
“We need to look at the distinct uniqueness within each of our Mississippi communities and empower them to work through their problems,” Boyd said. “Your state representative needs to help empower communities when they want to do projects and
programs. I have done that.”
Frye said a senator’s job is to represent the entire community.
“The senator from this community’s number one job is to focus on how our regional economy functions and form and develop partnerships between the counties and cities in our region to continue growing our economy in a way that benefits everybody,” he said.
The candidates also discussed the chancellor search process at the University of Mississippi and the Institutions of Higher Learning Board involvement that has been criticized by many in the appointment of Glenn Boyce as chancellor.
“I didn’t come out right when the university announced the chancellor and make a statement because the university was going through a bit of turmoil,” Boyd said. “I did not think that was the time to say if elected I would fix this. I’m one of 52. The process of discussing IHL will not start until this election is over and people could talk. I believe that is when state and local experience is crucial. We can take the time and learn from others to determine what is working effectively in other places.”
Frye said he believes the IHL process created division and continues to be an issue at UM.
“One of the things the legislature needs to do is address what will happen next time one of our eight state universities needs a new leader, he said. “I am in favor of forming a study committee immediately to consider doing away with IHL and replacing it with a more representative form of governance. I am also in favor of legislation that immediately requires IHL to follow an open and transparent process.”
For election information including precinct locations, or to view a copy of the ballot, visit http://lafayettems.com/us/elected-officials/election-commission/elections/.