Gulfport community advocate and retired military veteran Jeffrey Hulum addresses crowd about his candidacy to serve out the term for Mississippi State House District 119. Hulum and other candidate; Gary Fredericks, both answered questioned at the Isaiah Fredericks Community Center in Gulfport for the 37th Annual Candidates Forum on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves set the election for District 119 on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Hunter Dawkins/The Gazebo Gazette via AP)

by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher – editor@thegazebogazette.com

Mississippi’s House District 119 in the state legislature will be decided on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 after the resignation of Representative Sonya Williams-Barnes on May 8.  Despite the ongoing campaign, both challengers; Jeffrey Hulum and Gary Fredericks, spoke to a live audience on Tuesday, July 12 at the Isaiah Fredericks Community Center in West North Gulfport.  

For the special election, the event was labeled as the 37th Annual Candidates Forum presented by the North Gulfport Civic Club.  Prominent attorney; Chris Fisher, of The Fisher Law Firm delivered the questions to the challengers.

A few of the large questions for each candidate was about education, healthcare, funding for the community, and dealing with a state house supermajority controlled by the Republican party.  

In providing his experience with the Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, Fredericks spoke about his influence in getting things done during the global pandemic (COVID-19), but also directed the audience to not look for a plan soon of Medicaid expansion because “they have a supermajority.”

Hulum spoke highly of public education and said he will fight to bring every dollar possible to promote schools.  Additionally, Hulum provided his military experience with helping build numerous international communities as an example of what he can do for District 119.

Both candidates concluded the forum by stressing their support of the community and the house seat belonging to each resident of District 119 in their closing statements.  

The former Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus chair Williams-Barnes surprisingly resigned to accept a new position at the Southern Poverty Law Center after a decade of service in the legislature.  Williams-Barnes will maintain her occupancy as Funeral Director and Owner of the Lockett-Williams Funeral Home in Gulfport.

While neither candidate has to affiliate with a state party because of the special election law, both are expected to join the Mississippi State House Democratic Caucus depending on who wins.