By: Rod Guajardo, Daily Journal
Greg Pirkle says the last straw for him was seeing the blockades government has put up over the years that prevent young business owners and entrepreneurs from achieving the “American Dream.”
The Tupelo attorney says he watched the leadership in government ship, shape and mold regulations on small businesses to the point where it dampened the willingness of Mississippians to start a business.
For years, Pirkle sat across the desk from those same Mississippians as an attorney and informed them that achieving the same dreams they grew up believing were in reach were actually buried under mountains of paperwork and bureaucratic red tape.
But Pirkle doesn’t believe those conversations have to continue happening across Mississippi and the country, and that’s why he is hoping to represent the 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I don’t think politicians passing these laws have any idea of what it’s doing to people on the other side, but I do know because I’ve been living on that other side,” Pirkle said. “Politicians might not be thinking about how it’s going to impact the public when they pass some of these laws, but when I’m there I will know exactly what it’s like or how it will impact a young businessman or stimulate economic recovery in our communities.”
Pirkle is one of 13 candidates running in the May 12 special election to fill the seat left vacant following the death of Congressman Alan Nunnelee.
Armed with a clever television advertising campaign asking voters to “Pick Pirkle,” the New Albany native is stressing the importance of sending someone who shares the values and principles of north Mississippi to Washington.
“I think there’s a general dissatisfaction with government right now, and I think that stems from a lack of trust in the people who hold these offices,” Pirkle said. “The public is putting their trust in the leadership that’s there to fix these problems, but that’s not happening. I don’t know if that’s because they don’t know how or don’t want to, but I can and will.”
The son of a Baptist preacher and a school teacher, Pirkle graduated from New Albany High School and went on to earn a degree from Baylor University. He later earned a juris doctor from the University of Mississippi and a master’s of tax from New York University.
Pirkle is currently the managing partner for the Tupelo office of the regional law firm Phelps Dunbar, where he primarily focuses on family estate planning, business law, state and federal taxation and exempt organizations.
Through his legal work, Pirkle said he’s seen the negative impact of what a government that continues to place regulations on small businesses can do to a community’s economy and spirit.
“Growing up, I was always told you could have the ‘American Dream’ if you worked hard enough and had the initiative and motivation, but now what I’m seeing is people can’t do that anymore,” Pirkle said. “It’s almost like government has taken the initiative away from people to start a business and reach that dream. And it’s not because they don’t have the dreams or are not capable … it’s because they’re getting taxed to death and regulated to death and can’t get the money they need.”
Pirkle is placing the creation of jobs, reduction in federal debt and protection of north Mississippi values at the top of his priority list.
Those things, Pirkle said, are what matter most to the people he’s interacted with in the 1st District.
“They don’t like the debt, they want more jobs and they want integrity,” Pirkle said. “They want people in office to be who they say they are.”
Those same values are important to Tupelo native and retired businessman Kenneth Warren and are why he’s supporting Pirkle in the special election.
“Personal values mean a lot to me, and I know Greg is a good, Christian man who stands for the right things and is someone I can trust,” Warren said. “He wants to make some changes, and I believe he can.”
Pirkle is involved in several civic organizations ranging from the Boys & Girls Club of North Mississippi to the Community Development Foundation. He’s currently the chairman of the Tupelo Major Thoroughfare Program and the CREATE Foundation board.
Pirkle and his wife, Lisa, have two children: Tyler, 23, and Megan, 19.