Jill Ford: Workforce development, drug policy are priorities for 2020 legislative session

Workforce development and drug policy are some of the priorities incoming freshman Rep. Jill Ford has for the 2020 legislative session. However, she also has a strong desire to learn and build connections.

Ford is new to the Mississippi House of Representatives, as she was recently elected to the House of Representatives District 73 seat.

“As a freshman going in, I know I’m going to need to learn. So, I’m not going in with an agenda a mile long and expect it to all get done,” Ford said. “But I do have a desire to build relationships and make connections.”

Building relationships and making connections is something Ford is familiar with as owner and broker of Ford and Company LLC.

However, she does have two priorities that she has a personal connection to, which she believes are important to the future of Mississippi, including the state’s workforce and drug policy.

“Your child can now graduate with a four-year degree and still not find a job,” Ford said. “But they can graduate with a two-year service industry degree. I want to give these kids a chance, when they’re in high school, to know what they are going into.”

Two of Ford’s goals are to serve on the Workforce Development Committee and to be a voice for parents. She said she knows firsthand how it is for a parent to watch their children earn a college degree and then go in a different direction.

“I think that would be one of my top priorities,” she said. “I know as a freshman going in, I’m going to do my best to build relationships and listen well. I want to listen well.”

In 2015, Ford formed “The Inherit Movement.” This prayer movement was comprised of women of all ages, races and denominations who travelled together praying over all 82 counties in Mississippi.

While traveling Mississippi, she met and heard from hundreds of women across the state, which she said helped her gain a better understanding of the issues that Mississippians are facing.

After visiting with people from all over the state, Ford said she noticed that the main struggles for residents across the state are drug related.

“They have made such an impact on people,” Ford said. “Drugs are not prejudiced. They don’t care what color you are or how much money you make. I have had family members in prison for drugs. I hate what they do.”

Over the past four years, Ford, along with her husband, has ministered to some men from COPAC, which offers addiction treatment programs. She said she has seen the transformation of people who have completed treatment.

“I would love to serve on the Drug Policy Committee,” she said. “I have a heart for this, and how drugs affect families. I have been touched personally by them.”

The 2019 legislative session will get underway in January, and Ford said she is ready.

“I’m ready to go to work in January and let it be about the people,” Ford added.

“As someone who lives, works and has raised a family in District 73 of Madison County for the past 30 years, I believe our community expects and deserves continued ethical leadership in the House,” Ford has said. “I will look out for, and always keep in mind, the citizens of our great county. I have always felt a sense of responsibility to give back to my community, and I can think of no better way than to take on a role of a public servant.”

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1. She took her first ceramics class at seven years old at Pickenpaugh Pottery. 2. She and her father got their black belts in Tae Kwon Do together.