Crisler vs Norwood in the home stretch of Senate District 28 race
By Othor Cain
Vying to fill the unexpired term of the late Senator Alice Harden, Marshand Crisler and Sollie Norwood faced off at New Horizon Church International Monday, Feb 18, to a small crowd of supporters and interested voters.
With three years left on a four-year term, nearly 60,000 voters in portions of West and South Jackson will decide who will represent District 28 when they go back to the polls Tuesday, Feb. 26, for a runoff election.
The candidates faced tough questions from the audience that ranged in scope from charter schools, the expansion of Medicaid, the relationship between municipal government and state government to federal funds.
Crisler, a former Jackson City councilman, received 25 percent of the votes that were cast Feb 5. Norwood, a former Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustee member, received 22.5 percent. According to unofficial returns, only about 2,789 voters participated in the election.
Both candidates have similar views on the infrastructural needs in the city of Jackson and both support a local optional sales tax as a means of generating funds to pay for it.
Both candidates said they would not support a measure for charter schools but would rather insist on fully funding Mississippi’s Adequate Education Program.
Both candidates touted their relationship with Congressman Bennie Thompson
and said that they would leverage that relationship to bring much needed resources to the capital city.
Both candidates agreed that the relationship between the city of Jackson and the delegation at the State Capitol is strained at best.
Where they differ.
Crisler supports legislation that would require school board members be elected rather than appointed. “I believe we live in a democracy and this should be a democratic process,” Crisler said. “This
also holds school board members accountable to the people and not to politicians.” Norwood supports appoinment of school board members.
Norwood supports measures that would offer a seat at the table for legislators where Gov. Phil Bryant has turned a deaf hear to Medicaid expansion.
“I believe the Governor has shown his hand and is solid in his belief,” Norwood said. “We should now decide alternatives to this measure and deal with the reality of where we are…we can’t just sit back and do nothing.” Crisler supports fighting for expansion of Medicaid now.
At the end of the debate most in the audience noted that either candidate would represent the citizens of District 28 well. “I’m excited about where this race is,” said Shelia Lyons, a retired schoolteacher. “I would be comfortable with either one of these gentlemen.”