Political newcomer Maryra Hodges Hunt is back home in Lexington as she runs for the Democratic nomination for Mississippi secretary of state against former Hattiesburg mayor and gubernatorial nominee Johnny DuPree.

Hunt, 41, is a student, taking online courses toward a degree in health administration from the University of Phoenix after having obtained an associate’s degree from another online institution in medical coding and billing.

“Hopefully, I can become secretary of state and put it to good use,” she said Wednesday. She has traveled to parts of the state not far from Lexington to hand out campaign cards, shake hands and meet voters. In Greenwood, she worked the shopping crowd at Walmart and Save-A-Lot.

Hunt said she learned a lot talking to people, especially when she met someone not registered to vote and not interested in the elections or political process. She said she challenged many non-voters to get involved. “I think getting people to vote is the biggest issue (in this election),” she said.

Hunt had been a homemaker before she became a student, taking care of her husband, farmer William Jasper Hunt Sr., and their son, William Jr., 8. Hunt said she and her husband have been separated for about five months, so she and her son moved from Cruger back to Lexington, where she grew up.

Although she served in student government during her junior year at J.J. McClain High School in Holmes County, this will be her first time running for office. Rather than start out local, Hunt’s aiming for statewide office.

“It’s a good job,” she said. “I just want to work. Why not work for the state of Mississippi?”

Hunt expressed some doubt that the secretary of state position is too complicated for a beginner. “I’m not sure it’s a big job. Any job you do, you can make it big,” she said.

She said she looks forward to finding out more. “I love challenges. I love something different.”

Hunt has a general theme to her campaign, that she will use the office to tell people, “We matter. Mississippi matters.”

“I just want to help Mississippi out,” she said. “I’m saying, we matter, everybody matters.”

Hunt said that if she takes office, she will travel to every county in the state over her four-year term to find out what people need and “to show them the capital is there for them.”

If Hunt succeeds in the primary, she’ll face the winner of the Republican primary between Sam Britton and Michael D. Watson Jr. She sees a difference between herself and the other candidates. “I’m eager,” she said. “I don’t know if they’re eager like I am. Changes are good, as long as they’re for the better.”

Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or gmaliskagwcommonwealth.com.


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