Democratic candidate for governor, Brandon Presley, stumps for votes in Natchez

Published 9:13 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

NATCHEZ — Democratic candidate for Mississippi governor Brandon Presley was in Natchez and talked about issues like Medicaid expansion, corruption and jobs with those in a packed ballroom at the Natchez Grand Hotel Thursday late afternoon.

Following his meet and greet there, Presley headed to the Natchez NAACP candidate forum. His opponent, Gov. Tate Reeves, did not attend. Reeves has refused to debate Presley, or participate in a forum on issues facing Mississippi citizens.

Presley said the single “dumbest decision the state has made in a long, long time, was not expanding Medicaid.

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Not only would expanding Medicaid help working families, it would create 16,000 healthcare jobs in the process, Presley said.

“Whether it’s in Nettleton or Natchez, some of the best jobs in our economy and some of the best jobs in our state are in health care. Upward mobility, greater earning power… We all know somebody who is a licensed practical nurse. The next thing you know, they are a registered nurse. And some of them go on to become nurse practitioners. Some even go on to become a doctor. Sixteen thousand healthcare jobs.

“So if it doesn’t get you in the heart to help working people, it ought to get you in the wallet as a taxpayer,” Presley said. “Tate Reeves own state economist has put out a study that says Medicaid expansion will pay for itself. We know Medicaid expansion will save people’s lives. Behind those cold numbers are warm bodies of people.”

Presley also said as governor he would tackle the issue of corruption in the state.

“The first press conference I held in this campaign was about ethics reform. You’ve seen the headlines. Brett Favre’s $5 million volleyball court. $1.3 million to Tate Reeves personal trainer. $77 million total taken from jobs programs, education programs, that could help the working people in Mississippi. Assistance to families, stolen, diverted, misappropriated. There are folks being carted off to jail and they ought to be. There ought to be some more go to jail, probably.”

Presley said Reeves has done nothing to clean up ethics in Mississippi or to prevent events like the welfare scandal from happening again.

“He has been the chief cheerleader of this corrupt system for 12 long years. We are proposing a historic ethics reform package that turns state government back over to the hands of the people. Ethics reform that takes away the unlimited power of lobbyists to override your voice for something they want…It is the wild, wild west (in the Mississippi legislature),” Presley said. “We have got to clean that system up. I am running to challenge that system.”

He also said the Reeves administration has taken away rights of the people.

“You’ve lost your right to vote. Used to up until two years ago, if you wanted to put an issue on the ballot, you went out and did the most American thing you can do: Get signatures, put it on the ballot, have public hearings, have process. But the Supreme Court in the State of Mississippi struck that process down and Tate Reeves has not done one darn thing to return your right to vote. If you don’t think the government in Jackson, Mississippi, is set up against you, you better believe it,” Presley said.

Reeves has also had 12 years to correct the error of charging sales tax on groceries in Mississippi, Presley said.

“If you went out tonight to buy feed for a hog or a cow, you pay zero sales tax. If you go to feed a baby, in Mississippi you pay the highest sales tax in the United States of America. How messed up is that. There is support in the legislature to end sales tax on groceries, but Tate Reeves will not lead,” he said.

Mississippi car tags are the seventh highest in the country, Presley said.

“I don’t know about you, but I get sick when I open up my mailbox and see that little card in it,” he said.

He said Reeves brags on the state’s $4 billion surplus in revenue, but has done nothing to benefit taxpayers with it.

“How about use that money and put at least some of it back in the hands of taxpayers by getting the sales tax off of groceries and cutting the car tag fees in this state,” Presley said.

The state has neglected the infrastructure needs of the area west of I-55, he said.

“How do you expect to attract industries and create jobs from Natchez all the way up to the Delta without proper investment in infrastructure. You have counties in the Delta that don’t have a four-lane road, and you expect them to recruit an industry? Come on.”

Bridging the racial divide in Mississippi will also be a priority when he is elected governor, Presley said.

“We’ve got to have leadership that says every Mississippian counts. Every Mississippian needs to be a part of their state government. I want to have an administration that looks like the state of Mississippi. And I want us to get up every day and go to bed every night working to try to bridge the divide in this state that has been used against all of us.”