District 37 Representative Tyrone Ellis wants Clay County residents to know they are not without representation at the state capitol.
The death of David Gibbs in early January still leaves a seat vacant during the midst of a 90-day legislative session. This leaves only Ellis and District 39 Representative Republican Gary Chism as representatives for Clay County.
Ellis spoke to Clay County citizens on Monday morning at the Legislative Breakfast, sponsored by the Growth Alliance.
“I’ll work just as hard for you in Clay as I do in Oktibbeha,” Ellis told the large crowd who arrived for the 7:30 a.m. Event.
During the event, Ellis addressed issues ranging from economic development to education. Ellis, like many today, linked the two issues together, addressing the need for more early-childhood education.
“We can no longer allow our children to sit and look at a book and look at pictures,” Ellis said.
Ellis said that education based in technology is the key.
Ellis recently voted against a Charter Schools bill that passed the House of Representatives. He says that charter schools are not bad, but they are a bad idea in rural Mississippi.
“Charter schools in rural Mississippi is a travesty,” Ellis said.
While he and Republican leadership disagree on education “reform” laws that are being presented, much of which has to do with expanding charter schools, Ellis plans to catch more flies with honey than trying vinegar.
“I’m going to work together with them to come to a consensus to make this state better,” Ellis said. “I want our state to succeed. If I’m at odds with the speaker, I can’t do anything to help.”
Ellis is speaking of House Speaker Phillip Gunn, a man Ellis says he is friends with despite their political differences.
Ellis says that he would like to see a bill passed that he believes would be more comprehensive than what he calls “outsourcing” the problem to private charter schools.
“We’re putting the cart before the horse,” Ellis said. “We need to fix the system that we have.”
Ellis also urged Clay County residents not to feel like they need to give up too much to potential industry. He says Mississippi has already given up too much in incentives to bring plants like Toyota and Nissan to the state.
“West Point and Clay County have a lot to offer,” he said. “We do not have to give away the store to bring industry in. We have people and we have resources..”
Ellis also urged the citizens of Clay County to put the past behind them when it comes to industry that has come and gone.
“Sara Lee is gone,” Ellis said. “It’s not coming back. We have to get over it. Go find you another Sara Lee, West Point.”
Ellis was the first guest in this current series of breakfast events. Gary Chism will be next week’s speaker, and Senator Angela Turner will follow in February 25.
The breakfast was sponsored by McDonalds.