‘A POSITIVE FORCE’Flaggs will leave big void, lawmakers say

Published 11:28 am Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The impending retirement of state Rep. George Flaggs Jr. will leave an opening in leadership that will be difficult to fill, friends and colleagues said Tuesday

Flaggs announced Monday that he would be retiring July 1 after 25 years in the Legislature. His term does not expire until 2014.

“Honestly, I don’t think anybody really was ready for this announcement,” said state Rep. Alex Monsour, who has served alongside Flaggs since 2008. “I don’t know anybody who would have run against George and really given him any competition.”

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Monsour, a Republican, said he worked well with Flaggs, a Democrat, and that Flaggs was not afraid to speak his mind or cast votes that weren’t popular within his party.

“He supported Vicksburg and Warren County to its fullest,” Monsour said.

Flaggs is one of a handful of Democrats appointed as a committee chairman by Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn of Clinton. Flaggs currently is chairman of the Corrections committee.

“George Flaggs has been a positive force in the House for 25 years,” Gunn said. “He’s a wonderful colleague and has been a great chairman to me. I hate to see him leave his post, but I know he will do a wonderful job wherever he goes next. His intelligence and ability to reach across the aisle will be great assets in his next chapter.”

Sen. Briggs Hopson III of Vicksburg, also a Republican, said Flaggs’ leadership will be missed in Jackson.

“George is one of the hardest workers in the entire Legislature and I commend him for the work that he had done for many, many years now,” Hopson said.

Flaggs’ retirement announcement wasn’t unexpected, Hopson said.

“It doesn’t come as a surprise because I heard that he is considering running for mayor,” Hopson said.

On Monday, Flaggs confirmed that he was considering a run for mayor but will not make a formal announcement until Jan. 12 on his intentions for the City Hall race. He made an unsuccessful run for mayor in 1997.

A special election will be ordered by Gov. Phil Bryant to fill Flaggs’ post. As of Tuesday afternoon, Flaggs had not turned in his retirement paperwork to the governor’s office, said Nicole Roberts, a spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant.

“The governor won’t even consider setting a special election until we receive that,” Roberts said.

State law gives Bryant 30 days after Flaggs leaves the House to issued a writ of election and specify an election date. At least 40 days’ notice must be given before the election, and candidates must qualify 30 days before the election.

Qualified candidates must be at least 21 years olf and have lived in the district for at least two years.