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Opinion Politics

Next Up: Young professionals voicing their vote for the future of Mississippi

Young professionals are next up to lead Mississippi, whether it be by holding elected offices or through the power of their votes.

Coast Young Professionals (CYP) members recently heard from a Mississippian who began his political career as a young professional.

Secretary of State Michael Watson ran for a senate position in Jackson County in his late twenties, defeating an incumbent before holding the position for 12 years. The Pascagoula native then ran for statewide office in 2019, taking down former Hattiesburg mayor and Democratic nominee Johnny Dupree to become one of the youngest secretaries of state in Mississippi history.

When meeting with CYP earlier this summer, Watson encouraged members not to sit on the bench when it comes to politics, but to voice their vote and run for offices that matter to them. Don’t let age or lack of experience be a reason not to run for office, Watson urged.

Personally, I feel as if most young professionals may not realize how powerful and important our vote is to our state. I have been fortunate to be part of most elections here – local, state, and federal – since my high school years and have witnessed firsthand how young voters can change an entire election.

My time helping with elections sparked my passion for politics. I began my career with a job on Capitol Hill working for Congressman Steven Palazzo and later served as his field director. That’s when I learned elections are not only run by the younger generation, but our state and nation’s capital is a big starting point for young professionals’ careers.

I witnessed some of the biggest upsets in my college years through younger generations voting. While attending Southern Miss, I saw a then 25-year-old Toby Barker unseat a 16-year incumbent to become the city of Hattiesburg’s next mayor. I saw college students and young professionals rally around Representative Missy McGee and get her elected to House Seat 102. Young professionals also rallied around my friend, Councilman Jeffrey George, to elect another young professional to have a voice on the Hattiesburg City Council.

Find your passion and find your reason, because our elected officials are the voice of the people. The change you want to see happen begins with you being a part of the greatest civic duty we have – voting.

Voicing your vote begins with registering. Young professionals are constantly on the move. You can download the voter registration form, fill it out, and mail it to your circuit clerk. If you’re already registered to vote in Mississippi but need to update your information, you can do so online.

I challenge my generation – the next generation to lead our state – to voice your vote this year. Register to vote before October 9 to ensure your voice is heard in the November election.

The “Next Up” column series is a partnership between the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, Coast Young Professionals, and SuperTalk Mississippi. The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of SuperTalk Mississippi Media. 

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