TUPELO, Miss. – The Mississippi Public Education PAC (MSPEPAC), a nonpartisan political action committee that champions public education, has endorsed two candidates in statewide legislative special elections.
Founded one year ago by a group of passionate public school parents from around the state who advocate for high-quality public schools, MSPEPAC, for the first time, has completed a selection process to endorse candidates in legislative special elections in Starkville and Vicksburg. The PAC’s mission is to help elect pro-public education candidates to the Mississippi Legislature in order to strengthen, support and protect existing public schools in the state.
The MSPEPAC sent questionnaires to each qualifying candidate to gauge their attitudes toward public education. After an interview process and upon careful consideration, the MSPEPAC has chosen to endorse Cheikh Taylor (D) in the House of Representatives District 38 race in Starkville and Kevin Ford (R) in the House of Representatives District 54 race in Vicksburg. Both candidates have demonstrated a strong commitment to support public education and recognize the need to adequately and equitably fund Mississippi’s public schools.
“The MSPEPAC has an inside interest in Mississippi’s public schools and believes candidates supported by everyday Mississippians, rather than outside interest groups, can best serve our children,” said founding board member Julia Weaver. “We will be supporting both Republicans and Democrats because Mississippi’s children need strong advocates on both sides of the aisle.”
Taylor, a Starkville native, is the executive director of the Brickfire Project, a nonprofit after-school program for disadvantaged children. He graduated from Starkville High School in 1992 and earned his degree from Howard University. An active member of his community, Taylor has served on various boards such as Habitat for Humanity, Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors Advisory Council, Starkville Area Arts Council and Oktibbeha County Food Policy Council. He has been married to Jamila Taylor for 18 years, and the couple has two children, Leila and Ahmir, who both attend Starkville High School.
“We are excited to endorse Cheikh Taylor,” said Leslie Fye, a founding MSPEPAC board member from Starkville. “He is a product of Mississippi public schools, has two children attending public schools and is an early childhood educator. He and his wife were integrally involved in making consolidation in our district a success.”
The second candidate, Kevin Ford, is a Vicksburg native and owner of two local businesses, Ford Insurance Agency and Caffé Paradiso, a specialty coffee shop and bakery. He is a graduate of Warren Central High School and Hinds Community College. He and his wife Julie have three children, Kayla, a public school graduate who runs Caffé Paradiso, and Jack and Natalie, students at Bovina Elementary School. Ford is involved with Beyond Walls Ministries, a nonprofit organization for homeless men, and he is a member of the Bovina Elementary PTO, where he’s an active volunteer.
“The MSPEPAC is proud to support Kevin Ford for House of Representative in District 54,” said Weaver. “As the owner of two small businesses, Mr. Ford understands that strong, well-funded public schools are key to economic development in the region.”
The special elections in Starkville and Vicksburg will take place Tuesday, Nov. 7, and a runoff, if necessary, will be held Tuesday, Nov. 28.
The Mississippi Public Education Political Action Committee was created as a grassroots effort to give parents a voice in the political process by promoting candidates, measures and policies that strengthen, support and protect public education in Mississippi. Made up of a group of public school parents from around the state, the nonpartisan PAC recommends and supports candidates who are passionate about and friendly toward public education. The organization supports quality public education for all children in existing public schools, including our most gifted and most vulnerable, and seeks to promote adequate and equitable funding for Mississippi’s public schools. For more information or to donate online, visit www.MSPublicEducationPAC.org