In advance of his anticipated gubernatorial run, Petal Mayor Hal Marx is taking steps to get ready for his bid for the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in Jackson.
The third-term Republican mayor, who announced his intent to run for governor last week, has begun to assemble a campaign committee – mostly made of volunteers – to help with fundraising and other campaign efforts.
“I think we’re coming along pretty well for a very early stage that we’re at,” Marx said. “I have a person who is a website creator who is working for the campaign, and that should be ready sometime soon.
“We’ll make an announcement when that’s up and running so people can visit that. So that’s really where we’re at right now.”
Marx, who was elected as Petal’s sixth mayor in May 2009, has brought a communications director on board and may assign other duties to certain individuals as the committee grows.
“I’m sure at some point we’ll have a treasurer, and it’ll just be a committee of people who are willing to contribute to my campaign in some way, whether it be monetarily or with their time or contact information,” he said. “So there’s different ways they can help.
“I’ve asked several people to be a part of it and they’ve all said yes, and I think I’ve got about five or six so far that have confirmed they’ll be on the committee. I’m not ready to release any names just yet, because it hasn’t been finalized.”
Marx plans to travel statewide to drum up support for his campaign, talking to as many groups as possible and advertising through various means.
“I think with my campaign, because of the financial realities of not being able to match dollar for dollar on my opponents, we’ll be doing a lot of web-based advertising, social media ads,” he said. “(We won’t have) as much television, but perhaps some television toward the end of the campaign – maybe we’ll go on television the last few weeks of the campaign.
“But it’s going to be a lot of grassroots efforts – getting in front of a lot of groups, speaking to people one-on-one, small groups and things like that. So right now we’re in the process of trying to start to make a schedule … and those efforts are always going to be ongoing.”
The lineup for the Nov. 5, 2019 gubernatorial election has not been set, but Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves – who has served his two-term limit – is expected to enter the race. Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, also is a possible candidate.
The winner of the election will fill the seat of Gov. Phil Bryant, who will leave the post after serving his two-term limit.
Marx, who will be running as a conservative Republican, counts fiscal responsibility and education as two key platform issues.
“One of the things I want to make sure of is that we have a way to grade our schools that does not penalize our higher-performing districts, such as Petal,” he said. “Petal is the number-one ranked school district in the state, but it’s very hard for them to keep that ranking because of the model that’s used right now to grade our schools.
“Higher-performing districts are actually penalized because there’s not as much room for academic growth among their students as there is in lower-performing districts – that’s part of the equation that’s used to grade schools. So there should be a fair way to grade our schools. I think our students are being over-tested, as far as the state and national tests are concerned, and I think we need to come up with a better way to monitor their progress.”
That includes cutting back on the changes that are implemented in the tests every few years.
“It seems like every four or five years, there’s some new testing regiment adopted, and just as soon as the school gets used to that, they change it again,” Marx said. “It’s not fair to the schools to always have to change what they are being graded by, and it’s also not the best use of our money to be always buying these new testing programs and using these consulting groups by the state to come in and sell the tests.”
Marx holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in education from William Carey University. He worked for six years as a journalist for a Laurel newspaper, and taught social studies at Petal High School from 1998-2009.