Lt. Governor's race gets heated over last minute campaign literature

Published: Jul. 30, 2011 at 1:51 AM CDT|Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 at 1:52 AM CST
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CLINTON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - It is the latest blow in what has been a combative race for Lieutenant Governor. Tate Reeves' camp sent mailers to Clinton residents claiming his opponent Billy Hewes wants to change their school system.  Hewes called it a smear campaign.

Clinton residents found a document titled "All It Takes Is One Bad Apple" in their mailboxes Thursday sent by friends of Tate Reeves.

"This particular piece is pretty shameful.  It is distorting what we're trying to do, what we're talking about," said candidate for Lt. Governor Billy Hewes.

The mailer claimed Billy Hewes wants to combine the Jackson Public School District and Clinton Public School District, citing a bill Hewes introduced in the last legislative session.

Hewes said the mailers went out to Columbus, Meridian and other cities with high performing schools.

"They only wanted certain people in certain communities to see it.  Some folks would call it race baiting.  Whatever the case they timed it to where we could not respond," said Hewes.

Reeves camp said that is not true, but did not respond to questions about where the mailers were sent.  Reeves was not available for an interview so campaign headquarters sent the following statement.

"The mail piece addressed this bill introduced by Billy Hewes that would mandate school consolidation into one school district, one superintendent and one school board per county in Mississippi.  I encourage you to read at least the first couple of pages of the bill.  It is very clear.

While Tate Reeves supports combining services like purchasing, seeking to replicate the best practices of the most efficient districts and looking for more ways to increase efficiency and minimize administrative costs, he does not believe that Hewes' one-size-fits-all bill to mandate consolidation of school systems into one district per county across the state will benefit students, parents and educators.

It is Billy Hewes who owes the people of this state an apology for misleading people about his desire to mandate school consolidation to create one school system and one school board per county.  The facts are what they are.  The language in the bill is clear."

Hewes said the consolidation he wants to see is at the administrative level.  "Communities have identities, have for generations.  We want to keep those intact.  So I want to make this clear, this is not about combining school districts at all.  This is about combining or being more efficient with administrative functions like payroll, accounting, and transportation," said Hewes.

The mud slinging will stop on August second.  The winner of the primary will face reform party candidate Tracella Hill for the Lt. Governor's seat in November.

Clinton Mayor Rosemary Aultman has been vocal on the radio and Facebook about the campaign literature.  She called it an extremely irresponsible scare tactic.

She gave WLBT this statement,  "This goes beyond a piece of political mail out.  The content cuts to the heart of a community like Clinton that has invested so much in its school system.  People who aren't engaged in the elections, young families trying to make decisions, find this kind of rhetoric very frightening.  While I understand that Senator Hewes introduced legislature to study consolidation of some services, this concept that was promoted in this mail piece shows a lack of understanding of how school systems are organized and how they operate."

©2011 WLBT. All rights reserved.