District 119 race will be settled Tuesday

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Voters in District 119 will decide this Tuesday who will succeed longtime state representative Frances Fredericks, who is retiring.

Five candidates ran for the open position, but only two remain.

Sonya Williams-Barnes and Richard Marsh are both running as Democrats, and one of them will be declared the winner after Tuesday's voting.

With the runoff on Tuesday, Williams-Barnes and her team are hitting the streets.

"Vote for Sonya Williams-Barnes for State Representative," boomed the voice of seven year old Mason, who was using a megaphone to spread the word.

"I'm Sonya Williams running for state representative District 119," said the candidate as she shook hands with a female voter. "I ask that you come out and vote on Tuesday, August 23," said Williams-Barnes.

"I've always been a person that has served my community. My family, my parents taught me to serve those around us. And I'm excited about getting right to it," said the candidate.

"We have a large, large support group. This is just a few of the people who have been helping through this whole campaign. Some canvas, some make phone calls, some are giving donations," she explained.

And what are the concerns she's hearing?

"A lot of their concerns are education, which is one of my primary concerns, as well as, job opportunities and the economy. We constantly hear those," she said.

"Thank you sir, I appreciate it," said Richard Marsh, to a man who pledged his support.

We caught up with candidate Marsh campaigning at a community group's picnic.

"We did a grass roots campaign. The old grass roots campaign. That's what we did," he explained, "Door to door, churches, different functions and everything."

He points to his years of experience as a community activist that helped prepare him for this leadership position.

"No, I'm no stranger whatsoever. I've fought with city hall, I've fought with Harrison County. I've fought with MDOT. So, I pretty much know the system and know how it works. And I'm ready for it," he said.

As for the key issues facing the district, Marsh says several come to mind.

"Funding for education. We have to look at that. We have to look at that. How are we going to bring funding down from a state level to the local level to deal with infrastructure. We have some very bad infrastructure in 119," he said.

Whichever candidate wins the race it will be the first time someone other than a Fredericks has held this office.

Frances Fredericks has been the representative here for more than two decades.  She succeeded her late husband, Isaiah Fredericks, who was first elected when District 119 was created.

"She has been an inspiration and I hope that she will be a mentor as I go through this process," said Williams- Barnes. "Once elected, I would have to have her help. I would have to depend on her," said Marsh.

Again, the runoff election is this Tuesday, August 23rd.

Whoever gets the most votes between these two Democrats will be the winner since there is no Republican or Independent opposition in District 119

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