HATTIESBURG, Miss.- USM Senior Austin Howell is running on the Democratic ballot for the Mississippi House of Representatives. Howell, an economics major, is running in his hometown District 107, which includes George and Stone counties. He is a 2011 graduate of George County High School. Now, he is running unopposed, which already puts him past the primaries and through to the general election on November 3rd.
He is running against the incumbent GOP candidate Doug McLeod, who has been representing District 107 since 2011 when he defeated Democrat Douglas Lee. McLeod is also running unopposed, not uncommon for incumbents.
“My intention was to run in 2019. I was going to go to law school, come out in 2019 and run for office. Howell said. “But I saw that Mr. McLeod did not have anybody running against him, and I think that some of the votes he’s been making doesn’t line up with my values, nor the values of George County or Stone County. I don’t think he’s doing the best by us. So I decided I’d throw my hat in the ring and I’ve had a really positive response. I think I might do pretty well.”
Howell is running on three separate platforms. “Fiscal responsibility, economic development, and education,” he added. “And by Fiscal Responsibility, look, we’re already doing that. We’ve got the balanced budget. That’s really cool. But it’s not really balanced. We’re short-changing all these programs. That’s not good, like infrastructure and education. That comes into my education: We need to be fully-funding the MAEP program. We need to make sure that we can have each of our school districts up to our same standards.”
Howell is set to graduate from USM in May, and he plans to have a career outside of the legislature in economic development, as well as middle to upper management. He’s still also considering law school, which he could do at Mississippi College in Jackson while also serving in the legislature.
His opponent, Doug McLeod, is 54, over twice the age of young Austin.
The general election will be held on Austin’s 23rd birthday, so, if elected, while he will be young, he won’t be the youngest to be elected to the house. That title still belongs to Jeramey Anderson, who was elected at the age of 21.
You can hear News Mississippi’s EXCLUSIVE interview with Austin Howell HERE: