U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith spoke to supporters at her Oxford campaign office and campaigned in the Grove this past weekend. She spoke with The Daily Mississippian at her Oxford campaign office about her plans to improve life in Mississippi if she is elected.
Hyde-Smith, the first female U.S. senator from Mississippi, is the incumbent senator who was appointed last year by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to fill the seat of former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who resigned because of his poor health. She is a native of Brookhaven and was formerly the Mississippi commissioner of agriculture and commerce.
She said one of the strategies her office could employ to prevent college students from leaving the state once they graduate — a phenomenon commonly known as “brain drain” — is making the state more economically friendly so that recent graduates have more job opportunities.
“So many times … (college students) may leave initially and then return,” Hyde-Smith said. “I want them to know that they can return to Mississippi and be able to raise their (families) in an environment they can be proud of and (that) they also can prosper here economically and further their career(s) here, in Mississippi.”
She applauded Ole Miss for taking a serious look at alcohol and drug abuse issues and said that a lot of progress can be made if people start having more intentional and honest conversations about the dangers of drug abuse on college campuses.
“Let’s start by telling students to make good decisions where drugs and alcohol are concerned,” she said. “And make that a high priority issue — from the parents … (and) the counselors to the staff on the campuses — that we’ve got to address that we know there is a little freedom here (at Ole Miss). And they’re (students) intoxicated with the freedom at first, but please don’t (let them) get intoxicated with other abuses that can go to an extreme.”
At a time when state Republican leaders hold varying opinions regarding how to deal with Confederate monuments and the state flag, Hyde-Smith said she thinks the state legislature needs more time to study these issues in detail before allowing individual citizens to make their decisions about what to do with Confederate symbols official via a vote.
“I still think that this is an issue that we need to address. We need to take a look at it,” Hyde-Smith said.“We need to have research that indicates what each side is saying, and … the people should stand up and vote on that. Coming from the legislature, I am definitely of the opinion that people need to have a voice in … and an opportunity in that (decision).”
Hyde-Smith said college students fit in to her campaign because she wants to create economic opportunities for everyone in the state, including recent college graduates. She likes that many college campuses have their own business incubators for students and that universities are becoming more focused on helping college students create their own businesses.
“There are so many opportunities for entrepreneurs here, but someone needs to help them (students) be guided in that direction and provide real services, real substance … (Congress must) create the environment … (in which it) can help you (students) through these plans,” she said.
Hyde-Smith is running against state Sen. Chris McDaniel and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. The special election will be on Nov. 6.