Senate candidate Baria hosts town hall meeting in Vicksburg

Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

State Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, stopped in Vicksburg Tuesday night for a town hall meeting ahead of the Nov. 6 general election as part of his campaign for U.S. Senate against Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

The race is one of two senate races on the ballot. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, and Democrat Mike Espy are running for the unexpired term of former Sen. Thad Cochran, who retired for health reasons.

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“I know where he stands,” State Rep. Oscar Denton, D-Vicksburg, said as he introduced Baria to the supporters and interested people attending the meeting. “He stands with us on the issues of education, he stands with us on health care, he’s trying to do something better for the state of Mississippi.”

Baria took a variety of questions, telling people he would work to build coalitions in the Senate, adding one of his first moves will be to author a bill to make Medicaid expansion mandatory for all states to ensure people have medical care. He also promised to hold town hall meetings annually across the state, not only to discuss his accomplishments, but to hear ideas from constituents.

“We have one of the three co-equal branches of government that’s not doing its job. Congress is not standing up to the executive,” he said.

“We need somebody in Washington who is willing to work with this or any other president if it’s a good idea for Mississippi and America, but who is willing to stand up to the president when he talks to people in abusive and demeaning language or has a policy initiative that is harmful to Americans and Mississippians in particular like this tariff war.”

Baria said he would be happy to work with President Trump on infrastructure, but called the president’s plan where local and state governments pay 80 percent and the federal government 20 percent “a non-starter. If we had that 80 percent, we’d already be fixing our infrastructure.” 

He said Congress, instead of trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, should have developed a bipartisan solution.

“Everybody in my mind deserves some basic level of health care so that we don’t have folks who get so sick that they show up on emergency room doors where care cost four or five times as much as if they had just gone to the doctor all along,” he said.

Time for change

Baria said he’s running for the Senate “because I think that after years of watching our leadership over at the Mississippi Capitol and in Washington make bad decisions that don’t benefit Mississippians, I think it’s time for a change in our state.

“ I’ve got two children who are college age, who are considering their careers, and I also have a 10-year-old child — a fifth grader. I’m very concerned about the future, I’m concerned why a lot of our young adults want to leave the state and go elsewhere to make their careers and raise their families and create their futures.

“I’m also concerned about my 10-year-old son, and what kind of Mississippi is going to be waiting on him as he grows into adolescence and adulthood.”

Baria believes young people leaving the state are part of a series of problems affecting Mississippi.

“I think we have made some bad decisions over the past 25-30 years,” he said. “We’ve decided over the past 25-30 years that it’s more important to prioritize things like tax cuts for out of state corporations than it is for funding our system of public education.

“We’ve decided that it’s more politically expedient to refuse to accept our tax dollars back in this state and expand Medicaid in this state so that we can provide health care to 300,000 of our brothers and sisters and help our rural hospitals. It’s more important to make a political statement than to do the right thing for people.”

Those decisions, he said, have led to a situation in Mississippi where young people don’t find Mississippi as a place that is attractive to them where they want to create their futures, adding “It’s time to change the narrative.

“We need somebody with a statewide platform who can talk about the 75 or 80 percent of the things that unite us as Mississippians rather than the 20 or 25 things that divide us.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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