By Thomas Goris
Mississippi Capitol Press Corps
What is your name, age, and where are you from?
Rep. Michael Evans, 42, represents District 45, which includes Kemper, Lauderdale, Neshoba and Winston counties. He is from Preston, Mississippi.
What is your title, where did you attend college, and what degrees do you hold?
“I did not attend college. My daddy told me at an early age that college was not for everybody, and instead, I went to work for the city of Philadelphia as a firefighter for 23 years before I got into politics.”
What are some of Mississippi’s best qualities and what do Mississippians do best?
“What we do best is that we care about each other. We’re good to our neighbors. We’re good at giving to charities and such, and that’s our best quality. We are the hospitality state, and we love each other. We’re also great at filling ordinary jobs for ordinary people.”
What are some of Mississippi’s biggest problems and challenges?
“Education, for sure. That’s one of our biggest challenges. We have a teacher shortage. A lot of people don’t want to teach for the money that we pay. We need to increase teaching wages if teachers are gonna stay in state and help improve poor areas. We don’t have as high of a dropout rate as before, but it’s still something the state needs to work on. Another significant challenge we face is Medicaid. Our Medicaid budget is going through the roof, and it’s something we as a state have to work on.”
What legislation or policy are you currently working on and how will it impact the state?
“We passed a couple bills last week trying to address the road problems, but it’s going to take a lot more than what we passed to fixed the roads. We’ll probably need to find close to $300 million a year to fix the roads, so we’re going to have to keep working on that.”
What is an issue that you feel is important that hasn’t received a lot of media coverage?
“I don’t think people really understand how big of an issue the state of the roads and bridges are in Mississippi. People see that the roads are in decent shape in their own county and assume the rest of the state is the same way, but that’s not the case.”
What do you like most about your job?
“I like meeting people, getting to the capitol, and meeting folks, and just seeing what they have to say. There is never a dull moment.”
What do you think the hardest part of your job is?
“Dealing with things that I have no control over. The hardest part is when someone calls you to talk about an issue, and telling them that there is nothing you can do about it. You want to help everybody, and telling someone that you don’t have any control over that issue is the hardest part.”
What issues keep you up at night?
“I want every child in Mississippi to have an opportunity to go to high school at a decent school, to graduate, and have every opportunity to work at a decent paying job. Every child in Mississippi should have the opportunity to prosper and do well for themselves, and we aren’t quite there yet.”
What drives you to continue serving the people in this role?
“Every year, we do make a little bit of progress, and every year, we hope to find some way we can make things just a little bit better.