by Hannah Allen

Born from a “Truck driving Mama” and an “Oil-Field Dad” Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jay Hughes prides himself on being a small town guy.

Hughes has been on a mission to visit all 82 counties in Mississippi, and on Monday his mission brought him to Gulfport High School where he hosted a town meeting to discuss his ideas on policy and to invite public comment.

With the town meeting just minutes away, Mississippi State Representative Jay Hughes enthusiastically greeted incoming citizens while simultaneously setting up his own displays and refreshments.

Not one to shy away from hard work, Hughes spent a number of years in the US Army before becoming a first-generation college student. He then went on to get a law degree from Ole Miss in Oxford, where he continues to live and serves as an Alderman, a state legislator and works to better his community. He has won numerous awards including Volunteer of the Year, Parent of the Year, and Citizen of the Year.

In addition to working as both an Alderman and an attorney, Hughes is a substitute teacher, educating 7th and 8th graders in Oxford. A staunch advocate for public education, Hughes was met with applause as he addressed the meeting consisting largely of educators, parents, and citizens.

As he noted in the entrance of his meeting, “Public school lifted me out of a generational poverty situation and gave me the opportunity to be the best that I could be” While he understands the necessity and vast importance of public education—and has continuously worked to better the pathway for teachers and students—he is not blind to the faults in our school system. He noted that we, as a state, need to change the way in which we approach college and career readiness, stating “A large percentage [of children] will never step foot on a college campus…and we are doing them a disservice if we are not preparing them for skills that can be used with employment and with life.”

In addition to discussing education on the Gulf Coast, Hughes discussed his position on a variety of topics poised by the citizens in attendance.

As a Veteran himself, he empathized with a disabled veteran in attendance and explained that often times, veterans are used as campaign tactics by politicians to gain sympathy and notes “that needs to change.” He asserted that he “[has] direct experience with what’s broken and what works with the VA” and is working to better the experiences for retired and returning veterans.

Coastal specific topics Jay Hughes addressed throughout his campaign in Gulfport included, “The desalination of the gulf coast waters” which he asserts is affecting the seafood industry and tourism. His solution to this issue is for the Gulf Coast to be better and fairly represented in the state capitol, in addition to better distributing the funds that have been allocated to help restore the coastal region.

When contemplating his upcoming campaign, Hughes poignantly quipped, “I have no political aspirations, I just have the goal of making Mississippi better and that can be done with developing policy as Lieutenant Governor.’’