Senate minority leader Bill Stone stepping down

Stone, 51, is stepping down, effective Monday, to become manage of the Holly Springs Utility Department. Since the position is in the executive branch of city government, Stone is prevented constitutionally from continuing to serve in the Legislature.

“I am going to miss it,” Stone said Tuesday morning. “I have enjoyed serving in the Legislature. I have especially enjoyed serving as minority leader.”

During his tenure in the Legislature, Stone has advocated for more funding for local school districts, expanding Medicaid and for increasing transportation funding. He was a vocal critic of many of the tax cuts passed the Republican majority in recent years.

Stone, whose tenure in the Senate began in 2008, was elected minority leader for the current four-year term that began in January 2016. Derrick Simmons of Greenville is the vice chair and will assume the lead role for at least the time being.

Before being elected to the Senate, Stone was elected twice as mayor of Ashland, where he oversaw that Benton County municipality’s utilities.

“I have experience running a utility,” he said. “I think I can make a difference” as manger of the Holly Springs Utility Department.

“Plus, I can be at home more.”

The Holly Springs utility is considered a large one for the Marshall County town of about 7,500. The department provides water, gas and electricity in parts of a five-county, two-state region serving more than 11,000 customers.

Stone said he and Holly Springs Mayor Kelvin Buck, a former member of the state House, had been in talks for several months about him assuming the role. Stone said the post has been vacant for about 10 months and that Buck had been overseeing the department himself.

Stone first was elected to represent District 2, which consisted of all of Marshall and the less-populated Benton counties and a portion of Tippah.

But in redistricting, the Republican majority collapsed Stone’s district. He opted to move from…

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