GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - When the primary elections take place August 2, 2011 it will be the first time in more than 30 years that voters in Mississippi House District 119 won't see the name "Fredericks" on the ballot. Representative Frances Fredericks is retiring from office after taking up the torch when her husband Isaiah passed away.
There are five candidates looking to represent District 119 which is located in Gulfport. They are John Johnson, Richard "Kim" Marsh, Jackie Patton-Johnson, Robert Williams, and Sonya Williams-Barnes. Since all are running as Democrats, it is possible that a winner could be named in next month's primary.
Cosmetologist Cassandra Harper-Walton said she's the third generation of her family to run a business in West Gulfport.
"I just love the beauty of the people, the resilience, the ability to go to our leaders and get some things done," said Harper-Walton.
Now that Rep. Fredericks is retiring, a handful of hopefuls have thrown their hats into the ring to represent House District 119 at the State Capitol. It will be up to voters to decide who is the best candidate for the job.
"I'm going to be looking for somebody that we can talk to. That's approachable. That's community oriented,"said Harper-Walton. "[Someone] that knows the things that the area needs and keeps us informed of the different things that come through."
Over at Faith Ministries church, congregation members said they've been putting a lot of thought into who'll get their support.
"I'm going to be looking for a candidate that will look out for the best interest of the people as a whole," said Miesha Willis. "I think too often we send people to the Capitol that's bickering and fighting about my stuff and my this. But once we come together, somebody who has a clear mind and an open mind to say 'put everything on the table. Then we'll see what's best for the people of Mississippi.'"
Another voter, Korey Nealous said, "I'm looking for someone with the relative experience to go to the Capitol and knows how to actually deliver and get things done."
Soon voters from District 119 will get the chance to hear from the candidates themselves. The Gulfport High School Young Democrats will hold a forum Thursday, July 21, 2011 at the Gulfport Little Theatre. The event starts at 6 p.m..