On Nov. 3, voters in Mississippi's 3rd Congressional District will decide between two candidates for the House of Representatives.
Republican candidate Michael Guest will be running again after originally being elected in November of 2018.
According to Guest's campaign website, his focuses have been on foreign affairs and policies, promoting and protecting constitutional freedoms and rights and maintaining public safety by fighting for border security.
Dorothy "Dot" Benford, the Democratic candidate running against Guest, is promoting liberal views and promising change to a long-time conservative state.
According to her campaign, Benford is focusing on reducing gun violence through increased gun regulation, acknowledging and working against climate change as a national emergency, defending Roe v. Wade and fighting systemic racism.
Dallas Breen is the executive director of the John C. Stennis Institute, a public service and research organization located on Mississippi State University's campus. Breen is actively involved in helping train and provide opportunities to students interested in political science through the Stennis Institute, one of the most notable being a trip to Washington D.C for 25 to 30 active students in the institute, where students have had opportunities to meet with Representative Guest in the past.
Breen spoke particularly of Guest's willingness to host the students and meet with them, speaking with the students for hours at a time. Breen emphasized Guest's devotion to MSU students.
"Congressman Guest has been good to the students here at Mississippi State," Guest said. "He takes time to sit down, answer questions and take students through a tour of the capitol."
On Guest's opponent Benford, Breen had less to say due to her lack of presence in the media.
"Unfortunately, I can't really speak to her platforms or her vision for what she would do if she were successful," Breen said. "There hasn't been a lot of advertising or marketing on her behalf, at least in this area."
Despite the apparent silence from the Democratic party, Breen still stressed the importance of political involvement and voting, even in this race.
"Even at the state level or the local level, those are actually people impacting change on a daily basis," Breen said. "Every individual election is incredibly important. If you're not informed about the issues and about the candidates themselves, you lose that connection to impacting and influencing change."
Georgie Swan, a senior political science and psychology major, is part of the Stennis Montgomery Association and is the president of the MSU College Democrats.
Mississippi has been known as a Republican state for many years, but Swan said she wants to create a haven — a group of inclusion for any student desiring a similar community — for Democratic students.
Although Benford's campaign is small, Swan said the College Democrats stand in support of her. Without major representation, Benford's chances are small, but Swan stated she and the College Democrats share Benford's visions and will continue to support her.
"Michael Guest, running as incumbent, has that advantage," Swan said. "Even if your candidate loses, just having the Democrats show up and having the percentage of the vote that Guest wins by be decreased is important."
Swan emphasized the importance of college students becoming active, educated voters by considering and learning about topics, such as climate change, protection for minorities, increasing education funding and decreasing police funding. She said it is important for everyone, including students, to register and have a plan to vote.
Flannery Egner, a junior political science and natural resource and environmental conservation major and SMA colleague of Swan, spoke on the matter of the House race as well, with particular focus on Guest.
"I have met with Michael Guest a few times," Egner said. "He truly has a passion for Mississippi, and I really see that."
Egner said she saw Guest's experience with foreign relations as a strong suit.
"Michael Guest's knowledge and efforts for foreign policy, I really appreciate. I do think that foreign relations are important right now, especially with everything that has happened in the past four years — with NATO and the UN and now with the World Health Organization and the global responses to COVID," Egner said. "I do think having him in office furthers that agenda in making sure that, along with our response to COVID, we are recognizing what other countries are doing."
Although Egner found the size of Benford's campaign to be lacking, she spoke about views of which she knew Benford to support.
"Dorothy Benford is a veteran of the Civil Rights movement, and I think that's really cool, especially in the times we are in with the Black Lives Matter and the obvious social injustice that is happening in the country."
Egner encouraged students to become educated and active on the matters of the ballot, no matter their resident district or state. She said matters of minorities, such as protection and justice for women, LGBTQ+ communities and people of color, matters of climate change and earth conservation, foreign relations and health care were all vital to be considered as the elections approach.
"I think it's important that we are recognizing that there is an issue in this country, and we are going to be the face of that change," Egner said.