Candidate Q&A: Senate District 7

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, General – November 7, 2023

General Election Candidates:
Hob Bryan (Incumbent)  •  Robert Mitchell  •  Lesley Smith

Hob Bryan (Incumbent)


Robert Mitchell

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family?
My Father and Sister are retired educators, and I have two children and a Granddaughter who have all attended or attend public schools in Mississippi.

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.
MAEP should definitely be fully funded each year. We need to look at a better way of how it is funded. Instead of average number in attendance, we need to use the average number on roll. This would give a better representation of how much each district will receive in their fully funded allocation.

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?
Our state revenue is in better shape than ever, or at least in many years. We, as a state, need to ensure the funds are available to each department that serves our citizens. We should always run our budget, in the state, on the method of if we can’t afford it, we shouldn’t buy it.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not?
Private schools have their own funding methods. Our public schools should be the first to receive taxpayer funds. All students, whether public or privately educated should have the same opportunities to advance their education or enter the workforce.

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 whether public or private, if receiving taxpayer funding, should be held to the same standards.

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.
Our special education students deserve a quality education that meets their level of understanding and capabilities. This should be considered just as much as any other education funding.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide?
Early education is important in getting our children ready for learning the needed skills to keep Mississippi moving upward in the nation. Our early elementary children are reading at levels that brought our state from the bottom of the national ranking. If we begin this at earlier ages, we will ensure that all of our students are ready to enter elementary school to keep our education levels on the upward trend.

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?
Several of our issues can be addressed with modifying our state testing. This has a negative impact on students and their families. Our system puts too much emphasis on testing that we lose the true meaning of education. The impact on students from low-income families and lower socioeconomic status, sometimes, is too much to overcome. More time and attention could be given to these students if the stress of testing wasn’t so great. This would allow a better relationship to be built for bridging these gaps.

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?
I will support a pay raise to ensure our teachers stay in Mississippi and get us up to a national average.

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature?
Serving in the legislature is a right of any Mississippi citizen, no matter their career. The qualifications to enter the race should only be concerned with years living in the district.

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 many friends who are longtime educators and administrators. I will reach out to them when any education bill comes up and seek their advice.

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 vow to only support bills that will benefit district 7 first, and then Mississippi. I will work for the people, not the special interest groups.

Lesley Smith


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.