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Released June 10, 2003


HATTIESBURG - Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck used her own career in lawmaking as an example as she called upon more than 400 Girls State participants Monday to stay active in the political process throughout their lives.

"I stand before you to say that if I can be elected to the state Senate, then later on be elected as your lieutenant governor, you can do it," Tuck said.

Tuck told delegates to the 56th annual Girls State session at The University of Southern Mississippi that state government should not be viewed as a "spectator sport." She stressed the importance of finding candidates who possess the qualities one looks for in a leader, then being active in support of them.

"That's how I began," Tuck said.

Tuck told Girls State participants that her first experience in politics came as a page in the state Senate. She encouraged anyone with the opportunity to serve as a page to do so, saying that for her, the service sparked an interest in the lawmaking process that has lasted her entire life.

"I just became excited about the possibility that one day maybe I would have the opportunity to serve," Tuck said.

She did serve, eventually running for a state Senate seat herself. Tuck was sworn in at age 26, and was at that time the youngest person ever to serve in Mississippi's state Senate.

Expanding on her theme of political involvement, Tuck reminded Girls State participants of the importance of registering to vote and stressed that their participation could make a difference.

"It was one vote that decided we would speak English," Tuck said, referring to Congress' vote early in the nation's history to select English as the national language over German.

Tuck told the Girls State participants that their early involvement in politics would serve both them and Mississippi well.

"Girls State represents the best of the best," she said. "You've got those characteristics and qualities that Mississippi needs in its future leaders."

Moving on to the issues of the day, Tuck told Girls State participants it was important to support small business in the state.

"We're excited to have Nissan in our state," Tuck said. "We have great job opportunities there. But we also have to be supportive of our small businesses, because that's our heartbeat too."

Tuck said that Mississippi has approximately 40,000 businesses that employ 20 or fewer people. "One day you're going to fall into that category," she told Girls State participants. "Maybe your parents already do."

Among the things state government can do to improve the small business climate is continue civil justice reform, or "tort reform," Tuck said.

She also touched on the need for the state to continue focusing on education, especially as it applies to developing a highly trained workforce.

Tuck fielded a number of topics during a brief question-and-answer session, including her own much-publicized switch from the Democratic to the Republican party late last year.

"I can tell you this, Amy Tuck is still the same person that she has been," Tuck said. "I will continue to fight for the issues that are important to every Mississippian."

Valera Vollor, a 17-year-old senior from Warren Central High School in Vicksburg, said that she was happy Tuck had spoken at Girls State. "She did a good job," Vollor said. "I enjoyed her speech."

Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. It is designed to educate high school senior girls on the process of government through a series of campaigns and mock elections for various offices in the fictitious state of Magnolia. The session will run through Friday.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM