HOUSTON – Mississippi’s Attorney General, Jim Hood, has weighed in on many decisions through the years, but his latest one was the easiest by far.
The state office opened a satellite facility in Houston which allowed him to relocate his family back home while still managing the duties of the AG’s office for the state.
The new office is the third in the state, in addition to the central headquarters in Jackson and another satellite office in Biloxi. Hood said the newest office will be used primarily as a headquarters for field agents.
“We have investigators all over North Mississippi,” Hood said. “They were scattered and really had no place to hang their hats. This is a centralized location for them.”
The office will not be staffed to be opened on a daily basis, but provides Hood and investigators a facility from which to work while in North Mississippi.
“We’ll have some meetings here and we can handle emergencies,” Hood said, adding the site can cut down on travel time for citizens who would have othewise had to travel to Jackson.
But with advances in technology, work can be handled from just about any location.
“For a while, I was literally working out of my house,” Hood said.
Hood and his wife, Debbie, made the decision to move back to Chickasaw County after spending over ten years in the Jackson area, but the plan was never far out of mind.
“When I first ran for AG, I originally had planned to stay here and commute (to Jackson),” Hood said.
But he and Debbie decided to move the family closer to the Jackson office.
“It was easier for the family to be together,” Hood said. “It was the right thing at the time. God put us in one place all together.”
The Hoods have made the transition back, with their oldest daughter enrolled at Itawamba Community College and their son and youngest daughter in the Houston School District and are spending more time with family members.
“It’s good for the grandchildren to be closer to my folks,” Hood said of his parents who live in Houston and adding the time to come home seemed right.
“I feel like I have a duty to my parents,” Hood said. “We became more mobile and moved away but I’m blessed I’ve got a job where I can come back and still do what I enjoy doing.”
Business as usual
Hood said his relocation will not have any affect on the AG’s office or how business is handled.
Phone lines from the Houston office will roll over to the Jackson office and technology allows Hood and staff members to be in constant contact.
“Ten years ago, everyone met face-to-face,” Hood said. “At the end of the day, I’d have a stack of pink ‘return call’ slips on my desk. Now (through computers and smart phones) we can deal with issues immediately.”
The Attorney General’s office has a staff of about 285 and Hood has confidence in their abilities.
“The people in the AG’s office all work on specific things,” Hood said. “When I first started, I tried to keep up with all of them, but I had to learn to delegate.”
He said the key to the office running consistently and smoothly is due to the staff members.
“I’ve been with the same two deputies (Mike Lanford and Onetta Whitley) and one Chief of Staff (Geoffrey Morgan) the entire time,” Hood said. “They all have over 25 years of experience. They (staff members) know how it operates and what needs to come to me and what doesn’t. They know how to handle the issues. Do what is right and the politics will shake out. We’ve got some of the best lawyers in the state, it’s easy to let them do their jobs.”
The Hoods are happy with their decision to move back to Houston and Jim said they are, “all settled.”
“Life is too short,” Hood said, adding that family is the most important reason for the move. “When I’m old and gray and not the AG anymore, I’ll be sitting on the porch with the family.”
In the meantime, and with elections looming for 2015, what are his immediate plans?
“Currently I’m planning to run (for AG again),” Hood said. “But there are always family considerations. The options are open to run for AG or any other office. When you get to be 51, what’s important to you in life can change. You don’t know what life’s going to give you.”