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Residents size up candidates in House race

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
July 28, 2003
Rodney Todd of Quitman moved to Washington, D.C., in 1963. When he returned to Mississippi five years ago, he wondered where all the jobs in the area had gone.
Todd, a retired Washington policeman, said more infrastructure is needed to support industry. And, he said, he believes state House candidate John S. Slay would do his best to change that.
But Katherine Moore, an insurance agent from Quitman, said she stands behind incumbent state Rep. Eric Robinson. Moore said she thinks Robinson has done a good job and keeps constituents informed.
Moore said she likes the way Robinson writes newspaper columns "to let the people know how he voted on things. He doesn't have to do that. He also stands up for morals that a lot of people don't."
Robinson, 53, in office since January 1993, meets Slay, 33, in the Aug. 5 GOP primary for the District 84 seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives.
Contested race
The District 84 seat is one of eight contested legislative races on party primary ballots in East Central Mississippi. District 84 covers parts of Clarke, Jasper, Lauderdale and Newton counties.
The District 84 seat will be decided in the Aug. 5 primary because no Democrats, independents or third-party candidates are running for office. The winner will take office in January.
At stake is a seat in the 122-member state House, one of two legislative bodies that meet at least once a year every January to consider new laws and write the state's annual budget.
Even though Robinson and Slay are Republicans, they both have different opinions about many issues.
Robinson said he would not be in favor of funding education first in the next legislative session. "That's not the only agency we deal with. We've got many issues to deal with," he said.
Slay, though, said education should be funded first because he believes children are the state's greatest resource. "I believe that education is one of the most important issues in the state," he said.
No taxes
Robinson and Slay agree on at least one thing, however.
Both said they are not in favor of raising any kind of taxes in Mississippi. But if they had to, they said, they would choose to raise taxes on such items as tobacco, alcohol or gambling.
Robinson said he thinks the seniority he has achieved in the state House will help him better serve the people of his district.
Seniority is one factor that can land House members on important, high-profile committees such as the budget-writing Appropriations Committee and the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
Slay, who ran unsuccessfully against Robinson in 1999, said his experience as a small business owner in Quitman will drive him to work hard for small business owners in the area.
Both candidates said they plan to continue campaigning until the night of Aug. 3.

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