MEET THE CANDIDATES: Stevens, Denton running for District 55 seat

Published 10:36 am Saturday, August 5, 2023

Oscar Denton

Name: Oscar Denton

City of residence: Vicksburg

Current occupation: Mississippi House of Representatives House District 55, Retired AT&T

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What office are you seeking: Re-election House District 55

Kimberly “Kisha” Stevens

Name: Kimberly Stevens

City of Residence: I reside in Vicksburg, MS (Warren County).

Current occupation: I am currently employed as the Mississippi Tobacco Free project director of Warren and Claiborne Counties and executive director of God’s Appointed Ministry.

What office are you seeking? I am seeking the office of House of Representative District 55.

What is your assessment of the previous or current occupant of this office, and, if elected, would you keep it in the same direction or change course? — OR — How would you grade your success to this point in this office? Do you plan to keep things going in the same direction, or change course?

Denton: I’ve worked hard at delivering for the people of Vicksburg and Warren County. Our legislative delegation works well together. I collaborate with the Mayor, Board of Alderman, Supervisors, and other elected officials to shape and inform legislation. I regularly attend meetings to hear community voices. In the legislative process, relationships matter. I am pleased to be endorsed by the Mississippi Association of Educators(MAE), The Mississippi Association of Realtors, The Public Education PAC,  and the state CWA.  I plan to continue to engage constituents and constituent organizations as I advocate for Vicksburg and Warren County.

Stevens: With all respect, I feel that District 55 deserves a candidate that will have connections with the people and hands-on communication involvement and be more active with the needs of the citizens of Warren County. It was shocking to me on my campaign trail that many people were unaware of who their representative was. I plan on changing the things that are needed. I have no intention on reinventing the wheel, however, there will be changes because Warren County is in need of a change. I have innovative ideas, programs and strategies that I would like to incorporate.

How would you address transparency and accountability in this office?

Denton: Knowledge is key. I regularly meet with community leaders and share the happenings from/in Jackson. I support and encourage community voices in the legislative process. One way to achieve that is to schedule public hearings with testimony from interested parties. These hearings and floor debates should be streamed live.

Stevens: That has been a part of my platform to give the people their voice back. I will hold quarterly town hall meetings. I will be informative through all active social media platforms as well as extend it further to include newsletters and or PSAs to local media outlets. I will remain visible in the community. I am accountable to the people of Warren County therefore I want them to know who I am and who to ask when they have questions about the district.

What are the most pressing issues in this office and how would you address them?

 Denton: Crafting policies that enhance and improve the quality of life of Mississippians is the most pressing issue. Expanding Medicaid, fully funding MAEP, improving infrastructure, and creating good-paying jobs are the foundational policies legislators should be focused on. Protecting the right to vote is at the top of the list.

Stevens: That’s a loaded question because a representative not only represents the district but the state as well. But the pressing issues are any issues that affect the health, welfare and economy of the great state of Mississippi including economic growth, crime, the medical crisis and inflation. Of course, I will have more specific goals and objectives once elected. And again the office of representative plays a dual role. I have already done this as evidenced by: The day after the Rolling Fork Storm, I formed a team to help feed, hand out food, clothing as well as provide counseling.  I understand that when anything happens in Mississippi it has the potential to affect the entire state. As your next house of representative, I would look out for the entire state of Mississippi, especially Warren County.

How would your role in this office improve Vicksburg and Warren County?

Denton: I am accessible, experienced, and trusted. Collectively, those traits position me to influence policies that will impact the quality of life for the residents of Vicksburg and Warren County. I am positioned to bring additional resources to our community, as well as shape and inform policies that have an economic impact on our community.

Stevens: The first improvement would be handing the voice back to the people. People will know who I am. They will have more access to hands-on government. I Have no hidden agendas, I want what the people want. I am not your everyday political candidate, I have a heart for the people. I have been and will always be a community-minded person. So if elected you will see me continuing to be a tangible example for the youth, feeding the needy, working to bring federal and state grant dollars into the district. I am an advate grant writer and with my educational background, I am capable of going after and securing money that has historically been left on the table.

What are your reasons for seeking this office and why should voters elect you?

Denton: I am seeking re-election because experience and relationships matter. Knowledge of the legislative process and relationships are key ingredients to legislative success. I have both knowledge and relationships. Throughout my legislative career, I have been responsive and accessible. I’d like to continue the work that’s begun.

Stevens: I am seeking this office for the following reasons:

•   I want to give the people their voice back.

  • Increase voter participation by informing the community that their thoughts, concerns and future matters.
  • I want to offer my expertise in grant writing.
  • I want to help small business owners and help maintain our current larger chains.
  • I have a heart for the community so I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and have hands-on reactions to help solve our current issues such as youth crime and the need for positive role models as expressed by youth court judges and school officials.

Please share any family/personal information you’d like to include.

Denton: I am a lifelong resident of Vicksburg and a proud graduate of Rose A. Temple High School. I attended Utica Jr. College and was certified as a union negotiator at the George Meany Institute in Silver Spring, MD. I am a Deacon, Trustee, and Member of St. Mark Freewill Baptist Church and Chair of the Salvation Army Board. I am a Former Board member of United Way of West Central Mississippi. I am married to the former Cathy Naylor and we are the proud parents of three children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Stevens: I am the daughter of Coach Alonzo and Linda Stevens. I am the mother of two. I have received a minor in Business Management and a Bachelor’s from Belhaven College. I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree from Alcorn State University in Workforce Education Leadership. I am a member of the NAACP, Tyner Ford Post 213  Auxiliary and Noble Rose Hazel Lowell Chapter 42.

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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