Republican Brent Bailey and Democrat De’Keither Stamps recently shared their vision for the public service commission on Monday.
And despite party labels, it wasn’t terribly different. Both candidates support increased renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and both promise to keep utility rates low while promoting maximum energy efficiency.
They are running to replace Democrat Cecil Brown in the Public Service Commission’s Central District. Brown is retiring after serving one term on the three-person commission.
The PSC regulates rates with the state’s two investor-owned utilities (Mississippi Power and Entergy) and also regulates telecommunications, natural gas, water and sewer utilities.
Politically, the central district is split pretty evenly, both racially and electorally, with a slight edge for Democrats. It includes the Democratic strongholds of Jackson and Hinds county, along with the Delta, while also taking in the Republican suburbs of Rankin and Madison counties, along with Lauderdale county as the only other population center in the district.
In August, 108,000 voters chose the Democrat primary and just under 100,000 selected the GOP ticket. That contrasts with statewide numbers where for the first time in state history more voters chose the Republican primary – about 330,000 – than the Democratic primary – about 300,000. Four years ago, the district supported a Republican for transportation commissioner and a Democrat for public service commissioner. But in 2011, a Republican took both the positions.
Primary voters by party in the Central and Southern District
The central district is not the only district that will see a change.
The southern district will have a new public service commissioner as voters will choose between Dane Maxwell, the Republican mayor of Pascagoula and former Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran, a Democrat.
In August, Republican voters nearly tripled Democrat voters in the first round of the party primaries, illuminating the Republican strength in the district. By every measure, Maxwell is the odds-on favorite to win a four-year term.
Sam Britton, who served one term, passed on a re-election bid and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nominee for secretary of state.
In the northern district, Democrat Brandon Presley will be the sole returning member as he is unopposed in his bid for a fourth term.