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Republican candidates for state level legislative and Northern District Transportation Commissioner await their turn to present their case for election to the DeSoto County Republican Club. A similar forum for county offices is scheduled for Thursday evening in Southaven.

DeSoto County Republicans are trotting out their political hopefuls so the party faithful have an idea where they stand on issues ahead of the Aug. 6 primary election.

The DeSoto County Republican Club recently held a gathering where GOP candidates for state legislative offices and the Northern District Transportation Commissioner’s post were able to make brief statements about their candidacy and their main issues.

This Thursday night, June 13, a similar event will take place that will offer Republican candidates for county offices the opportunity to meet supporters and introduce themselves.

Governor hopeful Bill Waller Jr. has already spoken to the Republican Club, while Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and state Rep. Robert Foster are also expected to speak ahead of the August primary.

The candidates who spoke at the recent forum in Southaven included state Sens. Chris Massey, Kevin Blackwell and David Parker.

Parker and Blackwell do not have Republican challengers, but Massey is facing Hernando Alderman Michael McLendon and farmer Murry Haslip. McLendon appeared at the forum, but Haslip could not attend. Wife Katheryn Haslip represented the DeSoto County Planning Commission member who was at a commission meeting.

State Rep. Dana Criswell and challenger Mike Duncan took part in the forum. Both are running for the state House District 6 nomination. Tom Minyard spoke for state House District 7. Rep. Steve Hopkins and Hopkins’ challenger Kimberly Remak also made remarks.

Brad Branning spoke for Randy Denton, who is challenging state House District 25 Rep. Dan Eubanks, who did appear.

The two Republican candidates for the open House District 28 House seat vacated with Robert Foster’s run for governor both spoke, as DeSoto County Schools administrator Jerry Darnell and Hernando Alderman W.I. “Doc” Harris were involved.

Others who attended were state Rep. Ashley Henley and her challenger, Horn Lake Alderman Charlie Roberts; followed by the four Republicans running for Northern District Transportation Commissioner. They are: Trey Bowman, John Caldwell, Jeremy Martin and Geoffrey Yost.

Few barbs were thrown at each other during the three minutes allowed each candidate to make their case. The session was primarily an introductory gathering for Republican activists to state their case for support.

Many of the expected issues were brought up, including education, school funding and teacher salaries, curbing tax increases, support for veterans and law enforcement, along with improvements to health care.

Most of the candidates were likely well known to the Republican Club, but some may have been meeting the Transportation Commission hopefuls for the first time, beyond John Caldwell, a DeSoto County resident.

Caldwell readdressed his background as a Marine, a former county supervisor and former Director of Transportation for the school district, while Bowman talked about his business background.

Martin spoke about his vision for transportation in Mississippi and Yost stressed the importance of public safety, adding that the rest of the state needed to “catch up to DeSoto County” and its growth in recent years.

The incumbents in many cases talked about their accomplishments in office, while the challengers were more concerned about what they could do for the people they represent in office.

The forum involving county-level offices will be begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening at the BankPlus Training Center on Moore Drive, south of Goodman Road in Southaven.

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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