Shanda Yates, a millennial Democrat, could still oust Bill Denny, a top Republican in the Mississippi House, if her current lead in the House District 64 vote count holds once election officials add provisional ballots. With just the Election Day totals counted, the Associated Press reported that Yates led Denny, a 32-year incumbent, by about 51% to 49%, or 136 votes, in House District 64, which includes parts of Madison and Hinds counties.
Yates, an attorney who earned her law degree at Mississippi College School of Law, is a partner with her husband, Yancy Burns, at their law firm, Burns & Associates PLLC.
"I am a working mother. I am a small business owner. I am an attorney. I am a proud public school graduate. Being 'in politics' was never on my radar. But change was," she wrote in a questionnaire for the Jackson Free Press earlier this year. "My husband and I plan to raise our 4-year-old son in Jackson. We have a vested interest in the future of our neighborhoods, communities, district and state as a whole. I am running to be the change that I want to see."
If Yates does emerge victorious once counting is finished next week, she said she recognizes that she must work to address issues that disproportionately hurt African Americans.
"My district is located almost entirely within the city of Jackson. The public schools in Jackson are attended primarily by African American students," she wrote. "I believe that providing a quality education to these students is the first step in addressing many of the issues that disproportionately affects minorities, including job access."
Voters first elected Republican incumbent Denny, the current House floor leader, to the Legislature's lower chamber in 1987. He served in the U.S. Air Force and is a retired executive of Barclays/American Credit, a multinational