GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - This is where old-time politics is alive and well.
Anthony Wallace said this is the kind of campaigning he has come to know.
“I was raised in New York,” he said. “What they did in New York was they would come to everybody’s house and knock on the door. Let people get to know who they are. So, when it came down to vote, we knew who to vote for.”
Candidates, supporters and voters had a chance Saturday to meet face to face at the first Crawfish & Candidates event hosted by the Gulfport Rotary Club at Jones Park. Of course, that was in between munching on some tasty crawfish and all the trimmings.
This was a new but necessary experience for Leonia Wallace of Gulfport.
“The reason why we decided to do it was because we needed to know what the candidates stand for this time,” she said. “You know, sometimes you go and vote, you just vote because the names are there, but we wanted to hear from these candidates so we can make an honest vote this time.”
The candidates who will appear on the Harrison County primary election ballot Aug. 6 seeking local and state offices were also allowed one minute each to speak before the entire group.
Some who attended, like Marie DeYoung, weren’t happy with the perceived lack of political diversity.
“If you look around at all of the signs, you’re going to see it’s 99.9 percent Republican,” she said. “So, it’s only representing one perspective.”
While she wanted to listen to candidates, she also wanted to talk about her priorities.
“We need candidates who are going to fight for education funding, for our rural hospitals, for expanded healthcare so Mississippi will stop being the No. 1 place in the world for maternal health failure, women dying when they give birth to children," DeYoung said.
For Leonia Wallace, her requirements are more fundamental.
“Well, the first word I used a minute ago was honest,” she said. “And I want everything to be equal. And then there’s that good ole word, transparency.”
The event had a secondary purpose: to raise money for some new international projects, particularly helping to build a clean water well and sponsor some nursing scholarships in Haiti.