Candidate Q&A: House District 115

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:
Zachary Grady

Felix O. Gines (defeated in primary runoff)

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family?
I have and had, two children attend public schools, also I have worked within the county and city school as a facilitator. I, along with my five brothers and five sisters were educated in public schools.

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.
Absolutely, I will support and or lobby to fully fund our education system. If it means finding ways to be creative, such as the 25% of the BP money that did not go to the coast, should go to education.

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?
As a city council member, we as lawmakers do not invest in our people enough. All tax breaks are for major corporations and not the working class. Those breaks (tax) deprive our funding like schools.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not?
I do not oppose vouchers, however I am a product of the public school system…. I believe we should mandate fully funded schools in order to have vouchers.

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?
All schools in our state should be accountable whether they receive taxpayer dollars or not…it’s about the state’s future.

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. I have a son in public school with a disability (Downs), doing a great job, imagine if they were fully funded.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide?
Yes, our future depends on it.

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?
When I worked as a facilitator, this was apparent. We need more professionals and services for the many growing needs of our students.

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 was disappointed in some lawmakers.

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature?
Yes, because they deserved it!!

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?
I have (lucky) many educators in my family that will be at my disposal, along with a few boards that I belong, which have interest in our school system (disability connects).

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 have always voted my community and my heart. With individuals like me, education (public) was my only chance.

Zachary Grady (winner of primary runoff)


Phil Harding (defeated in primary)


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