JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – With the Mississippi Primary Election just days away, candidates are putting the finishing touches on their bids for statewide office.

Two of those Democratic candidates are vying for the Senate District 29 seat. The race places a well known face in the community against an experienced legislator.

For Dr. Dwayne Pickett, his pitch to voters is reliant on his 30-year relationship with the Jackson community.

“As a leader, as a teacher, as a school administrator, as a pastor, as a community activist, I’ve been in this community serving and working,” Pickett stated.

Incumbent State Senator David Blount’s pitch to voters is 16 years in the Mississippi Legislature and a record to show for it.

“Seniority matters in the legislature. I can work with people when I need to, and I can stand up to people when they need to be stood up to,” Blount stated.

Education is a headlining issue for both candidates. Blount hopes to continue to be at the center of major education policy, serving as vice-chairman of the Senate Education committee. Pickett plans on utilizing his hands-on experience as an educator.

“We always said that if we would fund our schools and pay our teachers, more our students would deliver. And they’ve done that. And that requires building a bipartisan consensus. And I’ve helped to do that in the state Senate, again, passing the largest teacher pay raise in history. I wrote a law that helps teachers pay off their college loans when they enter the profession to attract more young people to the profession,” stated Blount.

“I pretty much taught every grade, K-8, been a school administrator, and of course, I founded a school, we have a school here, an accredited school that is a preschool all the way up to 8th grade. We have to adequately pay teachers, or we are going to keep losing the best of the best. We have to make sure those teachers have the resources, the necessary resources to serve the population of people,” said Pickett.

Pickett also plans to emphasize the Terry and Byram area more, which is an area he believes Blount has left underserved.

“His influence has not paid off for all of District 29. Maybe it paid off for Fondren, maybe it paid off for Belhaven where he lives, but it has not paid off for Terry,” said Pickett.

“Drive to Terry and look at the new City Hall with its new library. Look at the renovations that are underway right now and the community center right there in Terry. Look at the plans to build fantastic new state of the art park in Byram, Mississippi. I wrote that legislation,” said Blount.

The winner of the Democratic primary will take on Republican Michael Carson in the General Election on November 7, 2023.

The Primary Election will be on August 8, 2023.