I have refrained from commenting on our DeSoto House delegation’s campaigns, but it’s time for me to share my thoughts on the races and most especially Forrest Hamilton’s race (since he is my representative). There are several reasons why I cannot vote for Forrest and will instead support Dana Criswell.
Forrest Voted AGAINST:
HB 496 – The 2013 Act to establish the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children.
HB 781 – Early Learning Act of 2013
HB 1004 – 2013 special needs bill
HB 765 – 2014 special needs bill
HB 449 – 2013 appointed superintendents bill
SB 2166 – Local school superintendents; all appointed after January 1, 2016, except pursuant to referendum.
HB 896 – 2013 speech language bill
HB 825 – 2014 bill to allow voters to vote in November if they wanted to continue electing their superintendent or if they wanted appointed superintendents.
HB 369 – The Charter School Act of 2013
SB 2313 – 2012 appointed superintendents bill
While some of our Representatives have stated that the language of these bills needed to be changed before they could vote in favor of them, our delegation offered NO AMENDMENTS to any of these bills. Our delegation are all members of the Education Committee, so what’s their excuse for not contributing to the issues at all? They voted against Governor Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and the majority of Republicans in the legislature. And contrary to Milton Kuykendall giving Forrest Hamilton credit for being an advocate for dyslexic children, nothing could be further from the truth. His voting record and own words prove that is not true. He may want to do something for special needs children now, but it has taken him and others over 3 years to take voters in this area and in the state seriously about our desire to have more options for our kids. I KNOW that Forrest cares about the kids. I do not doubt that one bit, but actions speak louder than words.
In my opinion, none of our Republican representatives should say they voted against any bill that has been a top Republican priority each legislative session, while all are sitting members of the Education Committee and while offering no amendments to these bills, no resolutions, no meetings with the authors of these bills to work on a solution, no replies to their constituents’ emails and calls and then vote in an election year for a bill(s) similar to the any of the ones mentioned above and expect people to forget all of the prior years comments, votes and public statements. Some citizens may be unhappy with Empower for contributing to the opponents of our incumbents, but they should be disappointed in our incumbents for not representing their constituents or responding to their calls. Milton Kuykendall is one man. He does not represent the wants and needs of all DeSoto County citizens. It would have been nice to have had an opportunity to discuss these issues with those that represent us and before an election year.
Now, Forrest discussed in one of his impassioned pleas against the appointment of superintendents that the Chinese were coming to take over, blood shed and a number of other concerns, yet he co-sponsored a bill with our DeSoto House delegation and others, subsequently passed by Governor Bryant, making Mississippi driver’s licenses reciprocal with The Republic of China (Taiwan). This was the 2014 Session’s HB 500. If he is concerned with Chinese or foreign takeovers, why did he work alongside our DeSoto delegation to get the Corporate Headquarters bill (HB 785) passed and signed into law for DeSoto County? Why is he OK with driver’s license reciprocity between MS and Taiwan? So it’s OK to provide tax incentives to out of state corporations, foreign businesses and international companies so they will bring those businesses to Mississippi and more specifically to DeSoto County, and it is OK to give them license reciprocity BUT NO to charter schools because foreigners may run them and take us over?! I am sorry, but that makes no sense whatsoever!
The charter school legislation, contrary to the hysteria presented by some people, is not aimed at dismantling the public school system nor is it an attack on our county. Any parent or grandparent that has a child/grandchild in a private school or that is homeschooled has taken part in school choice. The only difference between those choices and a charter school is that charter schools ARE public schools and do not cost the tax payer money. What opportunity does a child have when their assigned public school can’t or hasn’t met their needs and their parents can’t afford a private school or to homeschool? Children deserve opportunities and parents deserve choices for their children.
Forrest admitted in 2013 to only speaking at the podium in regards to a bill 2 times in his 10 years in the legislature (prior to that day). Is that a good thing? He spoke out against the appointment of superintendents, because he doesn’t want his vote taken away from him. In turn, he took our vote away from us by not allowing citizens to have a chance to vote in November of 2014 for what we wanted in the way of elected or appointed superintendent (HB 825). Forrest also co-sponsored a bill with our DeSoto House delegation that would have taken away a vote from our school board and oversight away from citizens. The 2013 HB 405 and 472 and the 2012 HB 1299 were all co-sponsored by our DeSoto House delegation to allow the superintendent of a school district to bypass the school board, go directly to the Board of Supervisors, request a private road or driveway be paved or maintained for school bus turn around AND it would not have to be documented on any meeting minutes. These bills all failed thankfully, but these bills would have taken away the oversight of the people and the vote of the school board to ensure the requests to be legitimate and necessary.
As it is now, let’s think about the bus turn around bill and how it would have impacted our county. The President of the Board of Supervisors is Lee Caldwell, and she is an employee of DCS at the county office. Up until this year, her job title was Special Assistant to the Superintendent. Her husband, John Caldwell, is employed by DCS at the county office, and his title is Director of Transportation. If our superintendent wanted a road paved, all he would have to do is tell John, talk to Lee and get it approved without any of us knowing about it whether legitimate or not. Is that allowing the people to have a voice? Is that transparent or being accountable to the people? If Forrest is concerned about having a voice, then the bills he co-sponsored are a complete hypocrisy. And please know that I am in no way saying that Milton, Lee or John would have done something inappropriate or questionable. No matter who the superintendent is or is not, this bill would have taken away the board’s vote and the oversight on behalf of the people.
The next issue I will discuss is Common Core and PARCC. Up until this year, all of our House delegation has supported these initiatives. It has been documented in the paper as to how The MS Economic Council and the DeSoto County Economic Council have supported our delegation’s economic accomplishments in legislation and all while those groups touted their support of Common Core and full funding of the MAEP. It hasn’t been until this year that any of our delegation changed their tunes about CCSS. Anyone can wear a button that says Stop Common Core or say they are against it, but the documented history of their votes, comments and actions cannot be disputed!
In the past, one of the biggest issues I have had with our delegation has been their lack of communication with their constituents. They are known for NOT returning phone calls or emails. An elected official must always remember that they are elected by The People to represent The People and their interests, not one superintendent, one group or their own interests. All most citizens want is for their voices to be heard and considered. Communication is key, and it has definitely been lacking with certain elected officials.
Finally, I would like to note some things. Empower is NOT an out of state group or person. Every one of our elected officials’ main contributors are not local DeSoto County citizens but rather state groups, organizations and individuals. So to make a fuss over Empower contributing to the campaigns of our incumbents’ challengers is quite ridiculous!! Empower has helped our county to have a voice. It is extremely difficult for the average person to be able to raise enough money to run a campaign. Ask anyone running for office right now how much money it takes and how hard it is to raise the necessary funds. In years prior, many of these incumbents have run unopposed. Citizens of our county were left without a voice or a CHOICE. This year, we have both and praise God for that! Milton Kuykendall has spent years emailing and dictating to staff how they should vote, who they should support and all with his negative remarks and negative campaigning strategies. Most of his negative political pushes have been in support of our DeSoto House delegation. You can read below what he has had to say, because these are the things that citizens never get to see yet happen regularly behind the scenes.
I know some people are upset with recent mailers that they have received from Empower, and I, too, am tired of the negative politics. BUT, a candidate has no say in what any group or organization sends out. Our incumbents know this to be true. What I do know is that DeSoto County has some really great people running for office this year. We have more choices now than we have ever had. That is a good thing. I, for one, am most thankful that some really great people have stepped up to the plate to run for office. We have 3 new seats this year and 7 pre-existing House and Senate seats to fill. Praise God and God Bless America that we have the freedom to choose!
I may not choose Forrest Hamilton to be my House Rep, but I will still like him as a person and think he is an incredibly humorous individual with lots of passion and many good qualities! I always enjoy talking to Forrest, and I think Pat is an incredible person, who I truly adore! No vote I ever make will change any of that. I just can’t vote for Forrest or support other incumbents that have fought against the issues that I so strongly support.
Dana Criswell supports our public schools, but he also supports school choice. Dana is against the federal government’s overreach into our educational system and opposes Common Core. He is the author and editor of Mississippi Gun News and is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Dana is a pilot for FedEx and has strong ties to our community. He is a family man and a good, Christian man. Dana is a very approachable person, who will listen to his constituents’ concerns. I know he will represent our county well. I have had the pleasure of working with Dana from time to time on gun issues and helping to spread the word about important Republican, Conservative legislation. I am thankful that Dana decided to run and is giving citizens a CHOICE. I hope those in our district will consider voting for DANA CRISWELL!!! 🇺🇸
Past articles in regards to our delegation and legislative issues for you to review: