The man behind the Empower Mississippi support of legislative challengers to long-time DeSoto County legislators defeated in the August primary election held firm behind the organization’s methods during a presentation to the Rotary Club of Olive Branch Tuesday.

Many of its mailings that backed the challengers in the election were labeled as negative advertising, an opinion raised during the question-and-answer session following Grant Callen’s talk to the Rotary Club.

But Callen, the founder and president of the organization pushing educational choice, including its backing of charter schools, called the election results that ousted Representatives Forrest Hamilton, Wanda Jennings, Gene Alday and Pat Nelson from their seats on Aug. 4 a positive result for DeSoto County.

“I think the voters made a choice,” Callen said. “This was an election in large part about education and the candidates aligned with the educational establishment who have voted for years to change nothing, to build a wall around our schools and don’t help other districts, were hurt. The candidates who had a vision for change and how we can help our whole state, while protecting our local districts, in large part won.”

New representation from DeSoto County will come to Jackson in the next legislative session that starts in January. Dana Criswell, Steve Hopkins, Dan Eubanks and Ashley Henley replaced the group that had become a major force in Mississippi government. Jeff Hale and Robert Foster will join that group as winners in House districts where incumbents were not involved.

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