Representative for District 14 draws independent rival

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Representative for District 14 draws independent rival

Panola voters who live in Senate District 14 will see a contested election on November’s ballot after Grenada businessman Donny Ryals qualified as an independent against Republican incumbent Lydia Graves Chassaniol. Ryals qualified on Feb. 27, the last day candidates could enter state and county races.

District 14 is one of the most geographically disbursed districts in the state following legislative reapportionment in 2012, and includes portions of Panola, Yalobusha, Grenada, Montgomery, Attala, LeFlore and all of Carroll County.

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Three of Panola County’s 23 precincts are included in the district – Pope, Eureka and South Springport

Chassaniol, a Winona restaurant owner, was first elected in 2007.

“I am chair of the Senate’s Tourism Committee and view this as an important part of the state’s economic development picture,” Chassiniol stated in a January e-mail confirming that she will seek re-election to the District 14 post. She is also vice-chair of the Corrections Committee and serves on the Agriculture, Drug Policy, Elections, Ethics, Finance, Investigative State Offices and Municipalities Committees.

Ryals is no stranger to politics, he previously served a term as District 24 Representative.  With the redistricting, he now lives in District 14. Ryals told the North Mississippi Herald he is running as an independent but has conservative values.

He has been outspoken against the state’s Common Core curriculum.

“I came out against it from the get-go, it reeks of government,” Ryals said.

Ryals served in the House from 2000-2004 as a Democrat, but explained the party had changed in the last decade. He said he qualified as an independent because he is an independent thinker.

“I cannot let the party define me,” Ryals added.