Democratic Gubernatorial Hopeful Bill Luckett Discusses Rural Revitalization PlanBy Sandra Knispel | Published 18 Aug 2011 08:20pm |
Just days away from Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial runoff election we continue our series of conversations with the candidates. MPB’s Sandra Knispel recently caught up with Bill Luckett on the campaign trail in Oxford.
The Burgundy Room, a local bar on the Oxford Square, is nearly deserted at 6 pm on a Wednesday evening. Not even the barkeep knows that Bill Luckett is supposed to stop in, much less who he is. When the Democratic gubernatorial candidate arrives, still neat in a dark blue blazer after a full day of campaigning, with intense brown eyes that betray a tinge of tiredness, he quickly sits down to talk shop.
“Over 55 percent of our 2.9 million citizens live in rural areas here in Mississippi. Many of the towns and cities have just been forgotten. They look abandoned. There are closed up shops, there are empty buildings.”
Luckett, a successful Clarksdale businessman and lawyer who was instrumental in turning parts of Clarksdale around economically, has a roadmap called “The Revitalizing Rural Mississippi Plan."
“This in an initiative that is somewhat predicated on what I did and what our experience has been like in Clarksdale. Why don’t we get these cities back being vibrant again. And what it takes is some vision and some leadership and somebody, in a sense – a cheerleader – to go in and lead the way, to fire people up and show them an example of what can be done in these small towns.”
Cornerstones of that rural revitalizing plan are free access to sound legal and financial advice for small businesses around the state to keep them from going bust. Luckett envisions a small-business hotline that doles out practical advice along the lines of..
“The permitting process, the inspection process, the type of entity to set up. Where do you go to get your building permit? Where do you get your electricity turned on? What are the requirements for water supply and service, for occupancy? All that. You get advice. You don’t get it done for you. You do the work but you’re guided through the process.”
What are Luckett’s priorities for the Magnolia state if elected governor?
“Jobs, jobs and jobs and what do we do in terms of underpinning to get there? Education is the best job program.”
And part of Luckett’s platform is the push for state-funded early childhood education in which Mississippi lags far behind. The Democratic runoff election against Johnny DuPree on Tuesday will decide if Luckett becomes the final contestant for governor against the Republican candidate Phil Bryant. If so, Luckett still needs to make sure before November 8, that not just barkeeps up and down the state recognize his name.
Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Oxford.
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