When Eric Robinson decided not to run for the District 84 seat again in 2007, it meant east Mississippi stands to lose some seniority in that position. Robinson had served 16 years in that post.
The three men vying for that seat know it will be hard to build that seniority back up, but they say they are ready to begin. Each of them said he knows that growing the economy in this area is critical.
"Economic development centers around building infrastructure. We need to have an industrial site that is fully ready to go. I'm committed to seeing that happen," said David "Tad" Campbell, of Bailey, an attorney and the Republican nominee. "But also, I think our delegation needs to speak with one voice and I am committed to working with every other member of our delegation to make sure that our voice can be heard over there."
The Meridian Crossroads shopping center has begun to increase the economic base of the area, but Clarke County resident, independent Cecil Hemphill, said he knows that is not enough.
"Meridian has seen a large growth as far as retail jobs, but those jobs don't pay a lot of money," said Hemphill, who is a bus driver and student at Meridian Community College. "We need automobile plants. We need factory jobs."
William "Billy" Lee, a Clarke County resident and the Democratic nominee, said he agrees that industrial jobs will help the area, and he is already working to have more industry come to east Mississippi.
"I am working to have three different plants for Lauderdale and Clarke counties from Tennessee to come, if I am elected," Lee said.
Lee said he believes that, once located in east Mississippi, the three plants would employ more than 7,000 people.