Columbus, Miss. (Starkville Daily News)
After announcing his candidacy for lieutenant governor Wednesday morning, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann made a stop in the Golden Triangle.
In a speech at BankTEL Systems in Columbus, Hosemann laid down the basics of his platform, with a particular focus on education and roads. He also touched on the importance of business to Mississippi.
Hosemann was elected secretary of state in 2007, and before that was an attorney and developer. He is a native of Warren County.
“You see this growth around Mississippi, and this is intellectual growth,” Hosemann said. “It’s smart growth. It’s people that are making significant economic impacts both for themselves and their employees.”
He said none of the growth would have been possible without education, both academic and career-technical. He said 70 percent of the state’s workforce won’t have a bachelor’s degree and commended various vocational programs and cooperation with employers.
“We believe that every single child, now matter what his capabilities, needs to have the maximum potential to succeed, and with that, there are special kids who need special help,” Hosemann said. “We were fortunate to work on the autism bill. There are others who need special help, but all of that educated workforce means that every child gets in the educated workforce.”
Hosemann also emphasized the importance of higher education, referencing Mississippi State University as an economic driver for the region.
“Those university systems will be a key to where we’re going, key leadership to where we’re going, particularly Mississippi State University,” Hosemann said.
He also voiced support for a pay raise for Mississippi teachers, which is a topic expected to be a point of discussion during the regular legislative session that began this week.
He discussed roads and infrastructure needs, including hopes to improve roads in north Mississippi. He said even with money being used for statewide infrastructure improvements, progress was slow.
“There are no new roads, really,” Hosemann said. “We need new roads in north Mississippi. There are parts of the Highway 15 to Highway 25 corridor just begging to be four-laned. In our budget, which is over $1 billion, we find that we can’t even do any new construction.”
He called infrastructure improvements a “key” to getting Mississippi products and people to work.
He said he chose to run for the lieutenant governor’s seat because of its power within both the legislative and executive branches of state government. He said he had kept an office in the state capitol building the past 12 years, giving him the opportunity to get to know legislators and be a part of various pieces of legislation.
“I got everything through the legislature that I wanted, and I think that’s given me a very good view for how to operate,” Hosemann said.
Hosemann also referenced the birth of his seventh grandchild, Howard Delbert, saying it was important for Howard and other young Mississippians to have a bright future ahead and be able to have opportunities available to them in the state.
“We have a great state,” Hosemann said. “We have great people, innovative people. We just need to continue to work to be positive about what we are going to do and aggregate our intellect together. We will prosper in Mississippi.”