Jarvis Dortch | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Jarvis Dortch

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Jarvis Dortch.

Why does your district need you right now?

Hinds County has plenty of politicians who are incredibly talented at putting up yard signs and making a good living off the political process. But that skill doesn’t translate into helping improve our schools, make our neighbors safer or families healthier. In fact, it makes it harder for good people to accomplish any of that.

We need more public servants that spend their time working on and advancing policies that actually help families. My hope is that we can start spending more time working to make sure more children have access quality pre-k and that their parents can afford it. My hope is to work with leaders across the county so that we can have more community schools that challenge and uplift our students. My hope is that we can have more servants interested in working towards solutions to our problems. I hope that over the last few months, I have convinced the voters of Hinds County that I’m committed to doing that job.

Provide one or two examples of when you have been an advocate for your district in your personal or professional life. What was the result?

I’m currently an attorney with the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program. Over the past couple of years I have devoted a great deal of my time working with churches, local elected officials, and community organizations to help Mississippians obtain health coverage under the ACA. Each experience with an individual or family has been different. It’s an incredible experience to help someone gain health insurance for the first time. Especially when that person has needed care or treatment and the ACA

But just as often, I’m sitting across from a person and informing them they fall into the Medicaid coverage gap. Often this is first time they are hearing about the coverage gap. Too often they blame the President and have no idea that this is a state issue that Mississippi lawmakers must address.

That tells me that our legislators are failing at their most basic job requirement-engaging the public. We are not going to move Mississippi forward in healthcare, education and wages if we have lawmakers unwilling to utilize their greatest strength- the voice of their constituents.

In the past year or so, what was the most important vote taken for your district? How would you have voted and why? What is the most pressing issue for your district?

Without question, it’s the inventory tax cut passed in 2013. That tax cut, championed by Republicans and Big Business, will take $126 million out of the state budget next year. That’s over half of the money needed to fully fund education. My opponent joined with Republicans in voting for this tax cut. I would not have voted for this tax cut and hope that we can revisit this legislation.

Lawmakers, especially Democrats, cannot claim they are for fully funding our public schools when they choose to side with lobbyists to make that close to impossible. $126 million dollars could do a lot for Mississippi families. Instead it’s going to companies like Wal-Mart that don’t need the help.

If you could propose one piece of legislation that would greatly improve the quality of life for people in your district what would it be?

The federal government is offering Mississippi $1 billion dollars a year to provide health insurance to thousands of low-income Mississippians. And our state leaders are turning that down solely due to politics. No one should go broke because of a hospital bill. Nurses and techs should not lose their job because state lawmakers are refusing to allow hospitals access to millions in federal funds.

Most importantly, it’s indecent and cruel for our state leadership to deny health coverage to thousands of Mississippians solely due to politics.

If you are unsuccessful in winning your race, how specifically will you continue working on behalf of your district?

No matter what, I’ll wake up on August 5th and there will be plenty of work to do. Mississippi will still have the lowest rate of health insurance, highest unemployment rate and all of the outcomes you would expect from generations of high poverty. Winning an election won’t fix that. Neither will losing an election mean it’s time to give up. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work on these issues.

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