As a volunteer firefighter and Scott County's emergency management agency director, Mike Marlow has seen the problems that come from closed bridges and roads in disrepair, he said.
If elected to Senate District 31, the Democrat said one of his priorities would be working to address those infrastructure issues, which include about 400 bridges and 4,000 miles of road in need of work.
The district encompasses Newton County, Scott County and Northwest Lauderdale County.
The District 31 seat has been held by Sen. Terry C. Burton of Newton since 1992. Burton is not seeking re-election.
Marlow faces Republican Tyler McCaughn in the general election on Nov. 5.
“We don’t need a gas tax," Marlow said. "There’s enough money if it’s spent right. The money is there. We’ve just got to be better stewards of it.”
To improve economic growth, leaders should also focus on public education and rural healthcare access, according to Marlow.
To start, state legislators need to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which goes directly into public school classrooms, Marlow said.
He said leaders should also address gaps in healthcare coverage for Mississippians.
“As a firefighter medic, I’ve seen the issues caused by the working uninsured, the effects of closing down rural clinics and hospitals,” he said.
McCaughn, who has been practicing law in Newton since 2007, agreed infrastructure should be a focus for lawmakers.
“It’s hard to get industry to continue to grow if you can’t get your product from the manufacturer to the end distributor,” he said.
In addition to roads and bridges, public utilities in some towns need attention, McCaughn said.
Leaders also need to bring more skilled jobs to the area and ensure quality educators are working in public schools, he said.
Building the education system includes making sure vocational training is available in schools and junior colleges, McCaughn said.
A cattle farmer, McCaughn stressed the importance of securing a safe food source for the people of the district.
“We’ve got to continue to support our farmers, make sure that education systems have the resources that they need to educate our workforce to support our vocational training and continue to encourage economic development back in the area.”
Contact Mike Marlow: email@example.com.