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Representative Philip Gunn Chosen Speaker by New Republican House Majority

Representative Jeff Smith Says He Will Support Gunn

Ron Williams

The November 8th election results produced what many Mississippi Republicans had hoped for, but what most Mississippians had doubted would happen…a Republican majority in the Mississippi House of Representatives. It’s a first since Reconstrution.
The newly-elected House Republicans met Monday at Brandon’s City Hall to caucus and choose their first House Speaker in 135 years. Representative Jeff Smith (who had hoped to be the next Speaker and attended the caucus) gave his account of the Republican vote:

“Monday, We met in Brandon to be away from Party Headquarters to avoid the influences of Party leadership (not that is was eliminated). There were five ballots before the winner was declared. There were four votes between the first, second and third candidates. The fourth and fifth candidates were eliminated, without out many votes per candidate. The party promised to keep the numbers each candidate got confidential, to avoid any embarrassment to some.
Phillip Gunn was one of the three Lieutenants of mine when I ran for Speaker in 2008 and lost by the famous one vote. I hope to work well with him, and he is knowledgeable and very competent. He will do a great job and hopefully return integrity to the House.
Many have called me and asked me what I plan to do now, which is another way of saying, will I continue to pursue the Speaker-ship? My answer is NO, I am a team player. Absent something extraordinary or exigent, I plan to support Philip Gunn, and have no plans to do anything but protect my District and this State.
Please, Pray for Phillip Gunn, after decades of bi-partisanship the last 8 years have been horrible for this State, it is a challenge to get things to work again, and the parties to work together. Also, I want to thank everyone for the support I have received over the last 3 months and especially thank (Rep.) Gary Chism.”

Besides Gunn and Smith, the other three House Speaker candidates considered Monday were Mark Fornby, of Picayune; Herb Frierson, of Poplarville; and John Moore, of Brandon.
Republican Representatives expect to have 64 votes when the next House session convenes. 60 of those Republicans were said to be on hand at Monday’s caucus meeting in Brandon.

Gunn being the next Speaker is far from set in stone. In fact, there’s other scenario’s that could be just as likely. I’ve said for years that Representative Jeff Smith is one of the best communicators on the planet. And though he’s long been a conservative, he’s also a knowledgeable, open-minded Legislator. He has been able to bridge gaps…bring people together.
Just because Republicans now have a slight majority doesn’t mean that an extreme right-wing Speaker is needed in Jackson. In fact, a handful of Republicans who aren’t crazy about a reversal of partisan politics where one party shuts out the other could likely ban with the House Democrats in making Jeff Smith the next Speaker. It can still happen. Jeff isn’t a staunch right-wing Republican. He’s more conscious of bringing those together beyond the political partisan bickering. That’s what we need in our next Speaker! Someone who will stand up to the extreme liberal left, yes. But also someone who will stand up to the extreme conservative right. It would be impossible for the Democrats in the House to put anyone else up as a candidate for Speaker than Jeff Smith. He could be their only hope for some face-saving and logical thinking in the Speaker’s seat. We need a happy medium in Jackson. I fear consequences from continued political party politics. I just don’t think it’ll be good for this great state.
I feel the only man that can bridge that gap is Jeff Smith. Let’s see how many Republican representatives will be able to step up and do what’s right and good for Mississippi.
During the caucus process, ten freshmen Republican Representatives were present. There was also talk of several thousand dollars apiece in money being passed around, obviously said to be ‘campaign contributions’. It was told that a couple of those offered the money had turned it down. But, some took it. It would appear the Speaker’s position comes with a price. If that’s the case, we’re already starting off on the wrong foot.

Karriem (politely) Scolds Public Works Director Mike Pratt at City Council Meeting

During the monthly reports from City Department Heads at Tuesday night’s Columbus City Council meeting, Ward 5 City Councilman Kabir Karriem had some questions for Public Works Director Mike Pratt. “Mr. Pratt. I’m just trying to see what’s going on in the Ward (5). We’ve been experiencing things not being picked up, a bunch of leaves not being picked up…and, as you know, as well as the Council, public works has been an issue for quite some time. And I just don’t see things happening in the ward that I represent. I’ve made major requests about ditches, sidewalks, curb and gutter, drainage and even the attempted robbery that happened a week or so ago on Highland Circle. I asked for that area to be cleaned out…and that’s been almost a year ago, and it’s not happening. So I’m just trying to see what is going on, the reason that my request, and I can only speak for myself, it’s not happening, so I’m just trying to see what is going on?”
Pratt answered, “We just started leaf pickup in the last two weeks. We’ve started on the east side of Columbus working our way west. As for your other request, we need to sit down and see what you’ve got…that’s not being done.”
“Well, you can’t say that this is the first time you’ve heard about it. Because, it’s documented…I wrote a letter to the mayor and council back in May about my displeasure of Public Works and things not happening in Ward 5. And, it’s not happening…if we sit down and talk about it, is things gonna get better? It’s like I was told playing basketball on sand…it’s just not happening. I mean, are you being told not to come to Ward 5?…what’s going on?” Karriem asked again.
“As for the ditching crew, we’ve been tied up on a major project out on the southside of town for the last few weeks. I haven’t had a ditching crew in any ward other than the southside of town for the last few weeks…we’ve been wrapped up. So we’re starting to get them back out in the ward,” replied Pratt.
“Well it just makes it very difficult when things are on the side of the road for months. I know the boom truck runs in Ward 5 on Wednesday, evidently they didn’t pick up everything they’re supposed to pick up and it’s not on a consistent basis for the cleanliness of the ward. So, I’m just trying to get from you what direction we’re gonna go in to kind of curtail some of these things that are going on?”
“Call me with a time that we can sit down so we can discuss what we need to do for you.” said Pratt.
Kudos to both Karriem and Pratt for playing down what could have been a potential argument between the two. Instead, cooler heads prevailed and they avoided a public confrontation. They both showed restraint on what began as a potential ticking bomb issue.

Ron Williams can be reached at Ronsings2you@aol.com

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