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22-year-old Tulane student wins seat in Mississippi Legislature

30th December 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Mason Harrison
Contributing Writer

Up-and-coming leaders who inject new ideas and energy into the political process are the lifeblood of American democracy. The phrase has been applied, at one time or another, to a number of political leaders on the current national stage and it is being bandied about in reference to a newly elected member of the Mississippi Legislature. Jeramey Anderson is a senior at Tulane University’s campus in Biloxi, Miss., where he studies public relations and homeland security, and he won a seat in the state House of Representatives during a November special election.

Anderson, a Democrat, turned 22 when he was sworn in on Dec. 6, making him the youngest member of the state Legislature and an immediate stand-out in a profession known for valuing seniority and having wait-your-turn rules of operation. But Anderson, a native of Moss Point, Miss., didn’t wait for permission to seek elected office and bested a field of five candidates in the race, including the current mayor of Moss Point who garnered backing from local Democratic leaders.



“In the beginning, I considered running for a local position when I first started to look at getting into politics,” Anderson said. “But then, after having a conversation with my uncle, I started to look at something a little higher in terms of state politics where so many decisions are made that affect local issues.” Anderson said his interest in public service began in high school and stems from various community service endeavors that caused him to explore the impact of city and state laws.

“I started two nonprofit foundations that I am very proud of,” Anderson said. “The Purple Knights of America is a mentoring program for young men ages 11 to 18 and the Real South United Soccer Club provides exercise, athletic opportunities and camaraderie for folks in our area.” Anderson received a soccer scholarship to Pearl River Community College, earning an associate degree in criminal justice before enrolling in Tulane, where he will juggle college courses and the legislative calendar. “It will definitely be a challenge,” Anderson said, referring to his dual responsibilities.

The newly minted public official is looking forward to addressing the issues that brought him into public life. “I haven’t received my committee assignments yet, but I’m hoping to work on issues connected to education, including colleges and universities, youth and families, and insurance.” Anderson said he is cultivating mentors in the state Legislature who will assist him through his new career. “There have been some state senators and legislators who have offered their help,” he said, adding, “I’m looking forward to working with everyone as this process unfolds.”

Working with any and all comers has been Anderson’s key to success, according to Steve Guyton, a counselor at the Mississippi arm of Boys State, a civic engagement program run nationwide by the American Legion. Guyton, who also serves as public relations director for the organization, remembered Anderson, who attended Boys State during his senior and junior years in high school, as “an outstanding leader” and someone “who could bring all sides together.”

Guyton said he rarely witnessed the kind of leadership Anderson demonstrated in the more than five decades he has been involved in Boys State. “Here is a guy from south Mississippi who is also African-American, and underrepresented in terms of his race at Boys State, who was able to get himself elected lieutenant governor of the program with support from people in north and central Mississippi where most of our elected leaders in Boys State come from,” Guyton said.

“It was just amazing how he got himself elected and how he worked across racial lines and across socio-economic lines.” Guyton said he and many others from the 2009 Boys State conference attended Anderson’s swearing-in ceremony. “There were people from all over,” Guyton recalled. “You could see the diversity and enthusiasm for the kind of leadership he represents.”

Anderson is filling the unexpired term of a representative who vacated his seat in the state Legislature and is up for reelection in 2015. Guyton, however, said Anderson has a bright future in Mississippi politics. “I believe that he will bring to the statehouse the kind of leadership he demonstrated at Boys State.” Guyton, who is involved in state and federal Republican politics, said he followed Anderson’s entry into the legislative race from start to finish and was excited about the outcome. “We were all watching this race very closely and people were calling me to tell me that he was going to win. I know I’m not supposed to say this, but he’s one Democrat I can support.”

This article originally published in the December 30, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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