HATTIESBURG, MS. - A Hattiesburg native announced her candidacy and will run for Mayor Toby Barker's former position as State Representative for House District 102.
Kathryn Rehner, 27, is a 2012 alumni from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and received her Masters in Social Work from University of Alabama.
Rehner said, "I am from Hattiesburg, I know the community, I experience a lot of different aspects of Hattiesburg, just from the work that I have done, my education, and especially being a Social Worker."
"I have a unique expertise in what our community needs and I think that is what separates me from other candidates" Rehner said.
For three years she worked for the city as a Social Worker on health access grants. Rehner is currently a Social Worker in Hattiesburg and is a Project Director for the Mississippi Health Access Collaborative.
Rehner said if elected she will focus on investing in quality public education, economic opportunity, and access to affordable health care.
“The reason I want to run for House District 102 is because there is a need" she said.
She added, "We are seeing a lot of things come down from Jackson, from budget cuts especially that directly affects our community and access to services."
Rehner continued, "At its core, I feel like success for a healthy community, a thriving community, is about access. Access to quality healthcare, access to public education, access to economic opportunity for entrepreneurship.”
"With regards to health access...there is definitely a need in our city, state, and in our country to continue to move forward and provide opportunities for individuals in rural communities and under-served areas who cannot access the same services either because those services do not exist or because they cannot afford them" said Rehner.
She continued, "Students are receiving less scholarships, tuition prices are going up for higher education." Rehner added, "And just quality public education and access to opportunities for students to contribute."
Rehner will run against Cory Ferraez, 28, a Hattiesburg attorney who announced his candidacy last month.
She will also run against Missy Warren McGee who announced her candidacy Wednesday morning on Facebook.
Governor Phil Bryant has yet to announce a special election date. Rehner plans to have a meet and greet Friday, July 7, 2017 at USM's Olgletree House at 7 p.m.