In our latest segment of our “Power Player’s” series, we interviewed Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula and the Republican Chairman of the senate ports and marine resources committee. Sen. Wiggins was one of the drafters of the Pre-K bill that passed the legislature this past session with bi-partisan support .
Still a relative newcomer to the Mississippi political scene, Senator Wiggins has become another “rising star” which is evidenced by his numerous committee assignments. He defeated longtime gulf coast lawmaker Tommy Moffatt by less than 1,000 votes in 2011 to represent Jackson County in the state senate. Whether it’s changing the states manslaughter laws to tackling childhood obesity to workforce development, Sen. Wiggins has been a hands on legislator for his constituents back home.
Check out our Interview with Chairman Brice Wiggins
1) MSPOLITICALPULSE: Why did you run for the legislature?
Sen. Wiggins: Quite simply, to make a difference. I left a great job as an Assistant District Attorney prosecuting criminals, but I wanted to positively affect more people of our great state. I am happy to say, that I feel like I am doing that.
2) MSPOLITICALPULSE: What are your top 3 legislative priorities?
Sen. Wiggins: One, we accomplished this past session, which was passage of the early education 4 year old bill. We had been the last state in the South and one of only a few states to not have such a program. Businesses, educators, law enforcement and others all supported it. Now, I want to see it implemented correctly. Second, to bring effective representation to South Mississippi and particularly the coast because we have so much great potential, we just have to harness those resources. Three, solve the insurance crisis that the state (not just the Coast) faces.
3) MSPOLITICALPULSE: Who is your political role model? And why?
Sen. Wiggins: I have three: One, my great-grandfather, Ed Wiggins, who was a self-made businessman and mayor of Pascagoula in the early 1950′s. He died when I was young, but his legacy was one of integrity, self-determination and not catering to the political temptations. Second, Ronald Reagan because of his communication with the American people and his ability to set a vision for the country. Third, former Congressman Gene Taylor for whom I worked for for two years after college because of his ability to represent our district, his understanding of the “working man” and his courage to not go along just to get along.
4) MSPOLITICALPULSE: How will you work across the aisle to gain bipartisan support for your initiatives?
Sen. Wiggins: I have already done that with the passage of the early education/pre-k bill. I was lead author and Senate Democrats were co-authors and I worked with House Democratic colleagues. The key, on this and other bipartisan success, is to rise above “politics as usual,” determine where our common interests lie, and to listen to the other side, even though you may not always agree.
5) MSPOLITICALPULSE: In what way(s) will you take the lead in working to bring economic development and jobs to your district?
Sen. Wiggins: Again, I have already begun to do that by championing and passing the prek bill. Corporations such as Chevron and Ingalls all supported the bill because businesses in Mississippi are clamoring for an educated, developed workforce. They see it as one step in improving the workforce. Also, I co-authored the Mississippi Jobs First Act which requires Mississippians to be hired after natural disasters such as hurricanes and then for the state to study where we are lacking in terms of job skills and to work to develop those. Further, I was able to secure $10 million for the Port of Pascagoula to secure and develop the pellet plants coming to South Mississippi.
6) MSPOLITICALPULSE: Were you satisfied with this past legislative session?
Sen. Wiggins: Yes, for the reasons stated above. We have to address home insurance. Flood insurance rates will be skyrocketing next year thanks to the federal government. Continue the progress in education reform. Also, introduce legislation to make South Mississippi a hub of high-tech innovation.
Sen. Wiggins is a Republican member of the senate and currently sits on the ports and marine resources(Chairman), appropriations, corrections, education, congressional redistricting, environmental protection, conservation and water resources, judiciary b, legislative reapportionment, and public health and welfare committees. He and his wife, Heather, reside in Pascagoula with their 2 children Landen and Grace.