January 24, 2013 9:50:24 AM
Jeff Clark - email@example.com
Although Gov. Phil Bryant has not set a date for a special election for the District 36 House of Representatives, left vacant by the death of longtime legislator David Gibbs, another Clay County resident has joined the race.
Eddie Longstreet, 49, of West Point announced his candidacy Wednesday.
A staff member for former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, Longstreet said he plans to focus on job creation and economic development as well as strengthening the state's education system and strengthening funding for infrastructure for municipalities.
"I've had an interest in politics since age nine," Longstreet said. "Based on my experience and knowledge, I think I can improve the quality of life for the constituents of District 36."
Longstreet will face Gibbs' son, Karl, who announced last week he would be seeking to fill his late father's seat. David Gibbs died Jan. 13 at age 76 after a battle with cancer. David Gibbs was first elected in 1992 to the seat vacated by Scott Ross, who is now mayor of West Point.
Longstreet is married to the former Jeanette Montgomery and they have two children. He has a degree in business administration/banking and finance from Mississippi State University, a master's of theology from Ministerial Institute and College and has been the pastor at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church for 24 years. A member of the West Point/Clay County Growth Alliance, Longstreet said he is an avid supporter of the recently-formed Golden Triangle Development Link.
"I believe in working together to create jobs for the area," he said. "In today's climate, we must do economic development regionally. I will be a staunch supporter of this."
If elected, Longstreet would miss the vote on the expanded charter schools bill that is currently working its way through the legislature. However, he said he would make education reform a top priority.
"I went to Helena, Ark., and looked at the advantages and disadvantages of their charter schools," Longstreet said. "I think we need to rethink the charter schools concept. I would support programs that would enhance and advance public education. As a former educator, I'm a firm believer in accountability."
Longstreet's announcement comes on the day Angela Turner was sworn in to office as the senator for the 16th District. Turner was elected Jan. 15 in a special election after her father, Sen. Bennie Turner, died Nov. 27. Turner had represented the 16th District for more than 20 years.
The 36th House District includes portions of Clay, Lowndes and Monroe counties.