Where do the Mississippi U.S. House candidates stand on the issues?

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We asked the candidates in contested races for U.S. House of Representatives to share their views on several issues such as infrastructure, police funding, public education and more. Here’s what they said:

*Representative Steven Palazzo is running unopposed in District 4.

Visit our 2020 Voter Guide to learn more about the November 3 general election.

U.S. House District 1

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly faces Democratic challenger Antonia Eliason, a University of Mississippi law professor, in the House District 1 race.

Kelly, of Saltillo, has served in the House since winning a special election in 2015 after the death of former Rep. Alan Nunnelee. He was reelected in 2016 and 2018. Kelly is a former Northeast Mississippi district attorney and has served for 30 years in the Mississippi Army National Guard.

Eliason moved to Oxford in 2013, where she teaches international trade and investment law and contracts law at the University of Mississippi. She previously practiced law in London for five years before moving to Mississippi.

Eliason is a self-described Democratic Socialist, and said environmental justice, racial justice and economic justice are at the center of her platform.

Kelly, a decorated combat veteran who has served in Iraq, now serves on the Armed Services Committee, where he is ranking member of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, and on the Agriculture Committee.

Healthcare:

Trent Kelly

Mississippians and all Americans need to be in charge of their healthcare decisions, not the federal government. A person should be able to choose their doctor and receive the best possible treatment options. The system is in need of reform to lower drug prices and insurance premiums. We must also do everything in our power to protect Social Security and Medicare for those who need it most.

Antonia Eliason

Universal healthcare is a basic human right. I experienced the British healthcare system first-hand and had my life saved without having to worry about medical bills. I know what difference it makes. Medical debt is the number one source of personal bankruptcy in the US and most of those declaring bankruptcy have insurance. With incredibly high deductibles and outrageous monthly fees, health insurance offers little to those receiving it and lines the pockets of insurance companies. Medicare for All would mean that everyone could receive necessary medical care. It doesn’t preclude the possibility of supplemental private insurance for non-essential care.

Coronavirus response:

Trenty Kelly

Under the leadership of President Donald Trump, a multi-pronged approach to COVID-19 has and continues to be successfully carried out. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, bipartisan legislation, quickly came to the aid of Mississippians and all Americans. This historic legislation provided direct relief in the form of Economic Impact Payments (EIP) and created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which enabled tens of thousands of small businesses to stay afloat while keeping their employees on the payroll. Additionally, unprecedented progress is being made to develop a vaccine. This process typically takes years to yield a vaccine. We are optimistic of having a vaccine delivered to the American people before the end of the year.

Antonia Eliason

Our national response to the COVID-19 crisis has been too little, too late, and too piecemeal. We need a robust plan that extends unemployment coverage and provides federal aid to assist with rent and mortgage payments. The CDC moratorium on evictions requires recipients to make up missed payments upon expiration of the program, which most people won’t be able to do. We need a definitive federal crisis response plan to avoid these issues in the future. This is also the time to implement universal healthcare, as more and more Americans face horrendous bills due to COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

National debt:

Trent Kelly

As a fiscal conservative, I am concerned about America’s national debt. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, America was enjoying economic prosperity that we have not seen in decades. Republican-led policies delivered tax reform while rolling back scores of regulations. The stock market was soaring to new heights and jobs were plentiful. Under the leadership of President Trump, America is making a comeback. Historic trade deals are leveling the playing field – key to President Trump and the Republican party’s “America First” strategy. Rebuilding the greatest economy is our goal and key to the reduction of our national debt.

Antonia Eliason

As a proponent of Modern Monetary Theory, I recognize that our preoccupation with the national debt is misguided. We’ve seen this just recently: the government threw trillions of dollars at the stock market in an effort to keep it afloat as soon as the pandemic hit. We don’t need to balance the budget the way we need to balance family budgets, because as long as the US government retains the ability to create money and levy taxes, we will be able to prevent inflationary situations from arising. Additionally, creating a job guarantee would help control inflationary pressures.

Public education:

Trent Kelly

All children in Mississippi should have the same education opportunities. Parents should be able to choose which school is best for their child and have access to a funding mechanism to make that happen.

Antonia Eliason

Free public education in America should begin in pre-K and continue through college/trade school. In the lower grades, we need to move away from standardized testing and focus on teaching our children in a holistic, nurturing fashion. Allowing creative expression is key to their mental and physical development. Most jobs today require some form of post-secondary education, but in order to get this, we take on huge amounts of student loans. I believe that student debt should be cancelled and that we should move towards a system of higher education that is accessible to all, not just to the wealthy.

Infrastructure:

Trent Kelly

Now, more than ever, there is a critical need to expand broadband in rural communities. Electricity served as the catalyst to economic growth in the nineteenth century. Broadband is the future. The Accelerated Broadband Act we introduced in the House and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker introduced in the Senate would incentivize companies to deploy broadband services to rural America on an accelerated timeline. Broadband access will enrich the lives of our citizens and bring our great state into the 21st century. This will lead to more investments in our state and serve as the springboard to improving our infrastructure across the board.

Antonia Eliason

Our infrastructure is aging and, in some places, close to collapse. From structurally unsound bridges, to antiquated power plants that can’t handle the demands of a warming climate, we need to invest in infrastructure. This includes government investment in hospital infrastructure, particularly in rural areas. Rather than patching our electrical power grids and other key infrastructure when crisis hits, we should invest in renewable energy and move away from fossil fuel power plants. Climate change is the greatest threat we face and adapting our infrastructure to account for extreme weather and climate disruptions is essential for our future.

Criminal justice reform:

Trent Kelly

I believe the criminal justice system works but should continually evolve to ensure the laws of our state and the nation are carried out fairly and appropriately.

Antonia Eliason

Criminal justice reform requires ending mass incarceration, reforming the prison system, and finding solutions that reduce the capacity of the “justice” system to harm our communities. We must be proactive rather than reactive to the circumstances that cause many crimes – prioritizing community services (education, meeting people’s basic needs) to prevent crime. Private prisons must be abolished, since the for-profit model incentivizes increased incarceration rates, while oversight of such prisons is limited. We need more transparency and accountability from our district attorneys. We also need to monitor and address the effects of racial discrimination on arrest and incarceration rates.

Police funding:

Trent Kelly

Our law enforcement officers willingly place their lives in harm’s way to protect our safety. These great men and women need our support to fulfill their duties. We must fully fund these agencies to make sure they have the tools they need to carry out their duties. Additionally, criminal penalties should be increased for assaults on law enforcement officers. We must hold people accountable for their actions or they will continue to wreak havoc across the United States.

Antonia Eliason

Our police are tasked with too many roles. We equip our police with military-grade equipment and give them tools of violence without sufficient training on de-escalation, non-interference, and community outreach. Systemic racial bias routinely puts the lives of Black men and women at risk in their interactions with police. The role of police should be minimized and social workers, mental health professionals, and other trained community leaders should be placed in support roles to perform many of the tasks police currently undertake. Reallocating significant portions of police budgets for these purposes is a necessary start.

State flag:

Trent Kelly

It is an issue for the State of Mississippi to decide, not the federal government.

Antonia Eliason

We need a new flag that represents all Mississippians. The proposed new design serves that purpose.

Please express your thoughts on any issues we didn’t mention.

Trent Kelly

Did not respond.

Antonia Eliason

Legalize cannabis and release those incarcerated on cannabis-related charges.

Cannabis has been proven to be both medically beneficially and recreationally safe. It’s time that Mississippi legalize cannabis, both medically and recreationally, and join the booming economy that comes with growing legal marijuana. The War on Drugs has had a hugely disproportionate impact on African Americans, even though black and white American consume marijuana at similar rates. Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on incarcerating people for consumption of a substance that is legal in some form in most of the country, we should use those tax dollars to invest in programs relating to education and public health.

A living wage is not a luxury but a right The minimum wage has been $7.25/hour since July 2009.

During that time costs of housing, food and utilities have increased. Calls for a $15/hour minimum wage began over a decade ago and it is long past time to implement a federal increased minimum wage of $15/hr. The federal minimum wage must be automatically recalculated annually based on cost-of-living increases. Increasing the minimum wage would particularly benefit women and people of color: 57.9% of minimum wage workers are women, and 38.1% of black workers and 33.4% of Latino workers would get a raise.

The Green New Deal offers us a vision for a sustainable future Climate change is already impacting our agricultural sector, and we must come up with solutions that empower farmers as well as factory workers.

Industrial hemp offers a new crop alternative for Northeast Mississippi that is easy to grow, better for the soil, and that brings with it the possibility of related industries, particularly manufacturing plants that would convert raw hemp into petroleum product alternatives. This would put Mississippi in a strong position to address the challenges of climate change, and provide us with markets in the United States to sell our products to, reducing our dependence on foreign exports.

Working Americans need greater representation.

New jobs that are created must provide opportunities for workers to not only survive but to thrive, that the jobs allow them to live with dignity without having to work multiple jobs, and that the jobs give them a say in workplace management. Many Americans have found themselves pushed further into debt as they try to survive while employed by corporations whose primary concern is to benefit shareholders rather than employees. We need unions so workers have a strong collective voice against corporate interests, private equity firms, and other entities more interested in profit than in workers’ rights.

U.S. House District 2

Bennie Thompson, who has represented District 2 in the U.S. House since 1993, is the only Democratic member of Congress from Mississippi.

He currently serves as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.

He is being challenged this November by political novice Brian Flowers of Clinton, who is running an underdog campaign to upend Thompson. Flowers, a NorthCarolina native, is a Navy veteran. He currently works at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Plant in Port Gibson as a FLEX marshal, dealing with security issues. He labels himself as a conservative.

Thompson, who lives in Bolton, often traces his start in politics to his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement during his early life and during his enrollment at Tougaloo College. Thompson has served as a city alderman, mayor and was a Hinds County supervisor when elected to the U.S. House in 1993.

District 2 consists of a large portion of metro Jackson and much of the rural, western areas of the state, including the Delta.

Healthcare:

Bennie G. Thompson

Mississippi should expand Medicaid. The state of Mississippi has lost $1 billion from the federal government each year since 2012 because of its refusal to expand Medicaid. Republicans in the Legislature in June 2013 blocked plans to expand Medicaid to an additional 300,000 state residents under the Affordable Care Act. Mississippi’s Second Congressional District is missing out on approximately $547.9 million in new economic activity and over 10,000 new jobs.

Brian Flowers

Did not respond.

Coronavirus response:

Bennie G. Thompson

The President has failed in providing our nation with leadership during this pandemic. This is a public health crisis that didn’t have to happen. Poor leadership and willful ignorance has crippled our response to COVID-19.

Brian Flowers

Did not respond.

National debt:

Bennie G. Thompson

I’m concerned about the debt however, in the middle of addressing the need for a robust response to this pandemic and the fact that the vulnerable should not pay the highest price for addressing it. We’ll just have to pause the debt concern at this point.

Brian Flowers

Did not respond.

Public education:

Bennie G. Thompson

Mississippi must invest in education. Public education produces some of our brightest minds and public servants. Students are given a foundation for success when it was well funded and supported.

Brian Flowers

Did not respond.

Infrastructure:

Bennie G. Thompson

I have always supported the need for better roads and bridges but also see the expanded opportunity for broadband deployment into rural and underserved communities as being essential for all Americans to be the best that they can be.

Brian Flowers

Did not respond.

Criminal justice reform:

Bennie G. Thompson

There is no question that there is an immediate need for criminal justice reform in this country. For starters, a viable solution would be to change the laws in order to create a criminal justice system that provides equity for all. Earlier this year, in response to the unfortunate death of George Floyd, The George Floyd Justice and Policing Act of 2020 was introduced, to hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies. I was proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation. Of course, it is not the answer to all issues within the criminal justice system but I believe it’s a step in the right direction. Another solution to reform the criminal justice system is voting. Your vote matters and who you vote for certainly matters to ensure that the people in office are honorable and impartial when creating and executing laws that impact our communities.

Brian Flowers

Did not respond.

Police funding:

Bennie G. Thompson

The solution to this unfortunate issue starts with our justice system in America. It is heartbreaking to continue to see murder after murder of innocent men and women of color go viral and our criminal justice system does not utilize its power or its capacity to bring justice to these victims who have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement. We should reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. The rotten trees of policing chopped down and fresh roots replanted anew.

Brian Flowers

Did not respond.

State flag:

Bennie G. Thompson

I commend the state legislature on doing what is right. Now the question is what else will we do? We can not stop at changing the flag. This is only a symbolic change. I hope we see this moment as an opportunity to address the systemic problems in our state.

Brian Flowers

Did not respond.

U.S. House District 3

U.S. Rep. Michael Guest of the 3rd District of Mississippi will face perennial candidate Dorothy “Dot” Benford in his first re-election bid.

Guest, a former district attorney in Madison and Rankin counties, emerged from a crowded Republican primary in 2018 to win the post. The 3rd District post was vacant because Gregg Harper, who was first elected to Congress in 2008, opted not to seek re-election.

Benford is a Hinds County community activist. She has sought multiple offices. In 1988 she ran for the 2nd District Congressional seat held by Mike Espy who in 1986 was elected as the first African American to represent Mississippi in Congress since the 1800s. In 2019, Benford ran and lost in the Democratic primary for the post of Central District public service commissioner.

The 3rd District, viewed as a safe Republican district, includes portions of the Jackson metro area and much of the east-central and southwest portions of Mississippi.

Healthcare:

Michael Guest

America’s health care system is the envy of the world because of quality, safety, innovation and technology. To maintain that standard, it’s important that health care be accessible, affordable and still maintain the highest quality. Health care decisions should be made between patients and doctors, not by the government. To give more people access to affordable private health insurance, we need more competition and flexibility for people to purchase insurance that meets their needs.

Dorothy "Dot" Benford

Did not respond.

Coronavirus response:

Michael Guest

The response to the Coronavirus is a federal, state and local responsibility that requires coordination from a federal standpoint, and making sure states and communities have the resources and support so they can make decisions based on their specific needs. The federal CARES Act is a good example of how federal and state cooperation can help address needs such as health care, education, broadband access and helping small businesses bounce back.

Dorothy "Dot" Benford

Did not respond.

National debt:

Michael Guest

Our national debt is out of control. We need to solve our country’s spending problem so our children and grandchildren will not be left with our debt. Having a growing, expanding economy is the best way to ensure we can fund key priorities like our military and other essential federal functions, and also avoid going into more debt. By reducing unnecessary regulations and promoting a free market, more jobs and opportunities will be created and as a result, a growing economy will give our children the opportunity for success today and in the future.

Dorothy "Dot" Benford

Did not respond.

Public education:

Michael Guest

As a graduate of our public schools, I know public education is a vital part of the American dream. Our children deserve an education that includes job training skills to prepare them for the workforce after high school, or for college if they decide to go that route. Either way, they need to be prepared to get a good-paying job to have a successful career and economic security. I will continue to support efforts on the federal level to assist our state and local communities as they play the primary role in determining the future of our public education system.

Dorothy "Dot" Benford

Did not respond.

Infrastructure:

Michael Guest

Mississippi infrastructure is a vital part of our economy. Roads, bridges, railroads, airports and ports on our Coast and waterways are incredibly important to maintaining and attracting more businesses and job opportunities for the people of our state. One of my goals as your Congressman is to rebuild our aging infrastructure in order to help ensure that Mississippi remains a competitive place to start and grow a business.

Dorothy "Dot" Benford

Did not respond.

Criminal justice reform:

Michael Guest

Our criminal justice system is constantly changing. However, our recidivism rate is far too high. We need to create a better system to give certain offenders the skills they need to reenter our society and become productive members of their communities so they do not end up committing additional crimes that result in a return to prison.

Dorothy "Dot" Benford

Did not respond.

Police funding:

Michael Guest

One major key to maintaining a civil society is ensuring the rule of law is in place to protect our rights and to prosecute those who violate laws. Otherwise, we would be a country of anarchy and constant chaos. Our law enforcement officers and first responders are heroes who protect us every day. We must pay them well and equip them with modern technology and equipment so they can protect our communities and return home safely to their families at the end of the day.

Dorothy "Dot" Benford

Did not respond.

State flag:

Michael Guest

I will support the flag chosen by the people of Mississippi.

Dorothy "Dot" Benford

Did not respond.