Area preps for summer elections

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2002

With a little over two weeks to go in qualifying, three peoplehave signed up to seek two circuit judge posts while the county’schancery judge contest remains a one-man race, according to recordswith the Secretary of State’s Office.

In the 14th Circuit Court District, which includes Lincoln, Pikeand Walthall counties, incumbent judges Keith Starrett and MikeSmith face a challenge from McComb municipal court judge JackPrice.

Smith said he submitted qualifying papers Friday to theSecretary of State’s Office. Smith is seeking his third term whilesenior judge Starrett is going for his third full term after beingappointed in 1992.

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In the 15th Chancery Court District, incumbent Ed Patten is thelone qualifier. Patten is in his second term as judge in thedistrict that includes Lincoln and Copiah counties.

The qualifying deadline for judicial elections is Friday, May10.

The judicial races are among several on the ballot for theNovember general election. However, voter and potential candidateinterest in the various races so far has been minimal, said LincolnCounty Circuit Clerk Terry Case Watkins.

“There’s not much happening right now,” Watkins said.

Watkins said there were some interest earlier in the year abouta special election commissioner race and a county school boardrace, but there have been no calls recently. The qualifying periodfor those races is not until later in the year.

The qualifying deadline for federal U.S. Representative and U.S.Senate races was March 1.

Republican Third District Rep. Chip Pickering and DemocratFourth District Rep. Ronnie Shows were the only candidates toqualify in their respective parties in the state’s new ThirdCongressional District. The incumbents were put in the samedistrict this year during redistricting after the state lost acongressional seat.

Watkins said a primary will not be needed in the representativerace.

An election on June 4 will be needed, though, in the Democraticprimary for U.S. Senate. In that race, frequent candidate James”Bootie” Hunt is going for the party’s nomination against StevenDouglas Turney.

“We’ll have to have an election for those two on June 4,”Watkins said.

The primary winner will face popular incumbent Sen. ThadCochran, who was the only Republican qualifier.

Lincoln County will also have a county school board electionthis year. James Keene, who represents District 4-West Lincoln, isup for re-election.

In special elections, 14th District Circuit Court Districtvoters will choose a district attorney after former DA Dunn Lamptonwas named U.S. attorney. Assistant District Attorney Danny Smithwas appointed DA until a special election could be held.

Secretary of State’s Office records show no qualifiers yet forthe DA post, but Smith has said he will be a candidate.

Lincoln County District 3 voters will also be choosing anelection commissioner in a special election. Floy McClelland wasappointed to the post following her husband Bernard’s death lastyear.

The special election qualifying deadline is Friday, Sept. 3.

The date for the general and special election is Tuesday, Nov.5. Watkins was optimistic that voter interest will pick up as theyear goes on and the election approaches.

“Hopefully, people will realize we’re going to have an electionthis year,” Watkins said. “I’m sure they will the closer itgets.”