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Boothe’s aspirations developed from service to kids

By John Howell Sr.

Anderson Boothe is one of four candidates for the Mississippi House of Representatives District 11 seat being filled in a special election March 26.

Anderson Boothe makes it clear that he is a product of Risqué Business, South Panola High School’s student organization. 

Risqué Business members have presented before audiences all over the nation dramatic plays and skits promoting positive peer support and discouraging drug and alcohol abuse and gang associations.

“When I was coming up, I was a little shy,” Boothe said. “But once given that opportunity to get into programs like Risqué Business ... it provided me with that platform to get out and speak ... to learn other activities are going on, not only in other parts of the state of Mississippi, but across the country that would tell me, ‘Hey, there’s not anything that you can’t do if you set your mind to it.’”

Once a student actor and speaker in the program, he returned, after graduating from South Panola and attending Ole Miss, to serve as Risque Business director and Coordinator for the South Panola Community Coalition. 

“That youth development is just the key,” Boothe said.

Boothe said that involvement in  coalition building has “helped him to be involved hands-on with the community.”

That has come through the South Panola Community Coalition as well as the Office of Tobacco Control and the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America, he said, planning, implementing and developing sustainability while administering grants.

Boothe said he understands the community’s shared vision that includes home ownership, a safe community and a great education system. 

To bring reality to the vision, Boothe said, he will work with state, federal and local resources to create jobs and to make sure the workforce is trained and skilled.

“We have to make sure we’re training and developing our work force here,” he said.

The candidate said that existing local resources are sometimes under-utilized, perhaps because many people are not aware of what they offer. He cited programs offered by Northwest Mississippi Community College and also the University of Mississippi’s free Small Business Development Program that offers hands-on assistance to would-be entrepreneurs.

“We have to build on these existing programs to make sure they are being used beneficially, he said. “We have to make sure we inform our community of those programs”

Boothe himself is aware of those resources. He and a partner utilized the small business development program at Ole Miss to establish a sideline business in photography and videography, he said.

He has also utilized his coalition-building background to found MARCH. — Men Actively Reaching Career Highs. It consists of a small group of friends, many with Panola County connections, who have committed to pool resources.

“It is a group designed to eventually give back to the community,” he said. Each member of the small investment group invests a monthly amount into the limited liability corporation. Long range plans include using the money accumulated to start small businesses themselves or to help finance startups for other people in the community.

Long range plans also include creating a non-profit corporation as charitable arm of MARCH to provide additional opportunities to help their communities, Boothe said.

Boothe’s campaign is undergirded by strong family infrastructure — his father, Lt. Col. Leonard Boothe of Batesville; his mother, Deborah Campbell of Sardis, “but everybody knows me by my grandparents, he said. “My grandmothers are Oneice Boothe and Darcus Campbell. That’s who everybody in this campaign has related me to.”

Boothe is married to the former Lisa Williams who is assistant principal at Senatobia Middle School.

Though he is a member of Rock Hill M.B. Church, he and his wife presently attend West Batesville Baptist Church, he said.

Boothe also enjoys the support of the widows of the two previous District 11 representatives, Belinda Morris and Ella Gardner.

The once-shy South Panola student who began to find his voice in Risque Business productions now gives the impression of a young man who is not only going places himself but who wants to take with him as many people as he can.

Next Tuesday, voters of District 11 will decide whether his next destination will the state legislature in Jackson.

Panolian: What makes you the best candidate?

“I’m a lifelong resident of District 11,” ... And I believe that I share the same vision as former representatives Leonard Morris and Dr. Gardner who wanted to see district 11 continue to grow and progress.”

Panolian: What is the most important issue you would like to champion in the House as Representative of District 11?

“We’re grateful for projects like the GE Aviation facility, but we’re going to need more major projects. ... One of the ways we can do that is by making sure we have a trained and skilled work force. My goal is to help us develop those training programs here.”

Panolian: Charter Schools is a topic garnering much attention in Jackson. Do you support some form of Charter Schools for District 11’s area? Explain.

“I’m aware that charter schools have had some success in other states. ... but I just don’t believe charter schools are going to be the solution to those issues. If we focus on charter schools, where is that going to leave our public schools?”

Panolian: What is the one thing concerning District 11 and its constituents that you have learned by campaigning for this election?

“When you sit down and talk to people across this district, you find out some of the things that you may not have thought were major concern, are major concerns with some of the constituents here.”

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