By Brandon Presley
Jackson Advocate Guest Writer
Abraham Lincoln once said, after losing an election, that he was “too old to cry and it hurts too much to laugh.” After the governor’s race, I know exactly what ole Abe meant. But, in a few days, I will be leaving as Public Service Commissioner with a heart full of gratitude for the trust, loyalty, and support that the people of north Mississippi have shown me for the past sixteen years.
Together, we accomplished a ton of good things that will transform our state for decades to come. While most politicians (I’m guilty myself) sometimes think that they did it all, the truth is that without the power of the people behind ideas and public policy efforts, we politicians are simple officeholders. It’s the people that make things happen in all levels of government. I want to take this chance to say thank you as I complete this phase of life in public service.
Thank you to the citizens who showed up at over 200 town hall meetings during my time as commissioner. I learned a heck of a lot more from them than they did from me. It was at one of those town hall meetings that the lack of internet service was brought up. From 33 public meetings we built a coalition of over 1,000 people to fix this problem. With the help of this coalition, we were able to pass the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act in record time during the 2019 legislative session.
As a result of those efforts, over 155,000 homes and businesses now have access to high-speed internet service through electric cooperatives. These same houses and businesses would have waited years to get internet service had the people not joined together and demanded the legislature act. This expansion of service will continue to transform lives, the economy, and Mississippi’s future for decades to come. One day we will look back and see that the expansion of high-speed internet service as important an act as the expansion of Mississippi’s four-lane highway system.
As this one, temporary door closes on my time as an elected official, I want the people I have served to know how deeply thankful I am for the chance you’ve given me to serve you. We have much more to accomplish in Mississippi and I plan to be right there with you pushing for positive change for our state.
Brandon Presley served four terms as Public Service Commissioner and was the 2023 Democratic nominee for Governor. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.