Denton eyes changing Delta message to Legislature

A Lake Cormorant farm owner and businessman seeks to be a new voice for the Delta in the state Legislature, as Republican Randy Denton has qualified and is running to be a state representative.

Denton is making a second run for the Legislature, as he challenged state Rep. Dan Eubanks four years ago when the two of them were in the same district. Denton lost to Eubanks in a close Republican primary. 

Now with redistricting, Denton resides in District 9 and is not being challenged in a Republican primary. He explains that he now is part of a district that involves five counties.  

“It has very little of DeSoto County and very little of Tate County,” Denton said. “It has all of Tunica County, half of Coahoma County and half of Quitman County.”

Without a party challenge in the primary, Denton is focusing on the November general election, where he faces state Rep. Cedric Burnett (D-Tunica), who has been in the Legislature since 2016. 

“About 65 percent of people who vote there vote Democrat, so I have to ask, ‘why would that be a race that I would want to get into?’” said Denton. “It’s going to vote that way unless I come in there with a message that makes a difference.”

Denton certainly has the knowledge and experience to represent the rural Delta. Agriculture is one area that Denton has particular interest in, as President for both Blythe Corporation and Blythe Family LLP, which oversees the farming operations of 850 acres of Mississippi Delta farmland. His family has been living in the area for over a half century.  

Randy Denton and wife Alice. (Courtesy photo)

“We have some relationships with farm families up and down the district,” Denton noted. “Agriculture is still the number one industry in the state of Mississippi.  It’s a $10 billion industry and a big part of that is in the Delta. Almost 17.5 percent of the workforce in Mississippi is tied to agriculture.”

Denton also knows that the district he wants to represent is mired in poverty and residents are struggling.

“Poverty levels are still at an all-time high in that district, cost-of-living is still through the roof and people are just having to struggle with that,” Denton said. “We live in the Delta, we live on a farm in northwest DeSoto County. I know what it’s like to be part of a farming family.”

He is also involved in enriching children’s lives, as owner/operator with his wife Alice of Art to Grow On LLC, an art enrichment program for children and adults. Two years ago, Denton assumed the role of President/CEO for KidzArt LLC, a world wide franchise, with two franchisees in Mississippi. He believes education can begin to move people out of poverty.  

“If we’re going to correct any of these poverty issues I believe it starts with education,” Denton explained. “I believe it has to. For instance, in Coahoma County, the poverty level is at 39 percent, but children ages 0-17, 53 percent live in that poverty zone in Coahoma County.”

To improve education, Denton would support fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, or MAEP as it is commonly called.  

“For years, we’ve chronically underfunded the public education system,” Denton said. “The Mississippi Adequate Education Program has always been something that has been debated in every session of the House. It usually comes up with a lot of discussion in the last month of the session.  We need to figure out a way to fund it creatively.”

But Denton believes a close look at the state’s public school districts is in order to determine what districts are working well and what districts are coming up short. In many cases, school districts are more top-heavy at the top and sapping needed dollars from the classroom.   

“Let’s take a close look at some of these school districts, which are running efficiently and let’s make prudent decisions about those,” Denton said. “I’m going to be a strong advocate for consolidating school districts. I think we’ve got to do that. We spend a lot of money on the administration set up of that school district headquarters. If you’re going to figure out a way to direct more money to the classroom, you’re probably going to have to figure out a way to reduce the size of the administration costs.”

Another area Denton pointed to is in the local and private legislation, such as the passage of bills allowing for local taxes in Horn Lake, Southaven, and Olive Branch for parks, recreation, and economic development.   

“State government has to continue to support the local government,” he said. “Local governments are elected by their community, they’re charged with doing the best with what they have and there are those things that come through the Legislature that require their support. But I do think that when it comes to taxes, we have to be very responsible. Before they were tax dollars they were your dollars.”

It also would be advantageous to the Delta if a Republican represents it, with the GOP being the majority party in both houses of the State Capitol, Denton believes. 

“We have a chance of having a Republican in this seat,” he said. “Where you gain some things by having a Republican in this seat is you gain some leverage in the Republican party and someone who realizes that you have to work together, instead of going to our separate corners and wearing our red tie or blue tie and then throw grenades at each other.” 

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

One thought on “Denton eyes changing Delta message to Legislature

  • April 24, 2023 at 7:30 am
    Permalink

    Mr. Bakken, thank you for your unbiased and informative continued coverage of the candidates in Northwest Mississippi.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *