Candidate Q&A: House District 33

Election 2023

Our public education questionnaire is offered to candidates in statewide and legislative elections. Search for candidates’ questionnaire responses below. 
Election dates: Primary – August 8, 2023; Primary Runoff – August 29, 2023; General – November 7, 2023

General Election Candidate:
Jim Estrada

Jonathan Dantzler (defeated in primary)


Jim Estrada


Dennis Nowell (defeated in primary)

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family?
I’m a graduate of Gulfport High 1982. My kids graduated from Harrison Central.

2. Do you agree that the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) should be fully funded every year? If yes, what actions will you take to ensure full funding? If no, explain why.
I support the existing program but would like to see new reforms in educational spending.

3. What will you do to ensure state revenue that is sufficient to provide all of the services Mississippi’s citizens need to lead productive lives?
The growth of Mississippi has provided revenue exceeding projected growth. I would like to see our spending reviewed on a case by case basis to see how well the money is being used.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not?
I would like to see school choice for all students in Mississippi. When schools complete we all will benefit.

5. Do you agree that all K-12 schools that receive taxpayer dollars, including private voucher schools, should be accountable to taxpayers for the quality of education they provide, using the same accountability measures as public schools?

6. Public schools serve the vast majority of Mississippi students with disabilities. Do you agree that special education services in public schools should be fully funded every year? (Special education has been underfunded by the state every year since 2008.) If yes, how will you accomplish full funding? If no, explain why.
Yes. Funding programs for special needs children should be included in our education budgets.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide?
I agree it should be available. But parents should be responsible for their children’s education by applying for these programs.

8. The nation’s top teachers say that the greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students are family stress, poverty, and learning and psychological problems. What steps do you believe legislators should take to alleviate these obstacles for Mississippi children?
I don’t understand why we charge for school meals. We can provide both breakfast and lunch to each student.

9. In the 2022 Legislative Session, a significant teacher pay raise was passed. Do you support continued pay increases to ensure that Mississippi’s teacher salaries keep pace with inflation and salaries in our neighboring states?
Yes. I would also support school reform to improve the culture of our education system.

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature?
The Legislature is part of state employment. Should a teacher be able to draw retirement when eligible and still teach?

11. Legislators have little or no staff to help them understand the many bills they must consider. Before introducing or supporting a bill that could affect public education, will you commit to seeking input from teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents of public school students in your district? Who will be advising you on education policies?
Yes, I have numerous friends and relatives I will work with for educational reform.

12. In the past, legislators have received tremendous pressure from the leaders of their chamber (House or Senate), state and party leaders, and corporate lobbyists, to vote in ways that could contradict the will of their constituents and harm their communities. How would you respond to such pressure?
I don’t allow others to pressure me into doing anything. I will listen to their reasoning but I will always fight for South Mississippi and District 33.

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