Bill Stone and Derrick Simmons
Stone chairman of Democratic caucus
Sen. Bill Stone of Holly Springs is stepping into a key role at the state capitol.
The Mississippi Senate Democratic Caucus on Tuesday, Jan. 10, elected Stone chairman of the 20-member group and Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville vice chairman. Sen. John Horhn stepped down as chairman because he is running for mayor of Jackson.
Stone had served as vice chairman under Horhn and moved up. Both he and Simmons were elected unanimously. Stone and Simmons will serve the remaining three years of the term.
“I am deeply humbled to be chosen by my colleagues to represent the Democrats in the Mississippi Senate,” said Stone, who has served since 2008.
He said his new leadership role should also be beneficial to the people of Marshall and Tate counties, who he represents in District 10.
“It certainly gives us some influence over the Democratic agenda,” Stone said. “How that translates into the process, I don’t know.”
Republicans hold a 32-20 majority in the Legislature’s upper chamber.
“Our area should directly benefit from the profile (of the position),” Stone said. “People I don’t even know have been coming up to me the last few days and congratulating me and talking with me. It puts me in a better position to get our message out there.”
Economic development is booming in Marshall County, particularly in the northwest corner at Chickasaw Trail.
“We’ve already got a good message out there and hopefully my serving in this position can only boost that,” Stone said. “You do not talk about economic development in Mississippi right now without Marshall County being mentioned.”
Stone is in his third term in the Senate, which means he is beginning his 10th session.
“The last couple of days have been hectic,” Stone said on Thursday of last week from his office at the capitol. “Once we get all of the organizational stuff finished, hopefully things will calm down.”
He said the Democratic agenda for this legislative session will be framed this week.
“We are setting our priorities,” Stone said.
Atop the list will likely be key issues such as education, infrastructure funding and the budget (revenue problems).
“Our Democratic agenda will reflect the diversity of our caucus, with members from all across the state,” he said.
“We feel like what is good for working families in one part of the state is good for working families all over – from the Delta to Tishomingo County, to Marshall County, the Jackson area and the coast.”
Kelvin Buck, mayor of Holly Springs, is a former state representative. He served in the Legislature for six years with Stone. The two continue to work together through their leadership roles in local and state government.
“This is a significant promotion for Bill individually,” Buck said. “I am very proud of him.
“And this can mean a tremendous amount to Holly Springs and Marshall County as it relates to our access to state agencies and getting assistance from state government.”