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First of three area debates Monday

Debates between two incumbents are generating interest in thisyear’s congressional contest, but other activity remains low with aspecial election qualifying deadline a month away.

“We’re really not hearing anything right now,” said LincolnCounty Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins about interest in thisyear’s special elections for coroner, district attorney andDistrict 3 election commissioner.

Regarding scheduled elections, Reps. Chip Pickering and RonnieShows meet in a debate Monday at 6 p.m. at the Brookhaven HighSchool auditorium. The debate will be carried live on statewideradio via Paul Ott’s “Listen to the Eagle” program.

“We’re looking forward to hearing from the candidates andgetting their views on issues affecting southwest Mississippi,”said Chandler Russ, executive vice-president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

Pickering, the Republican incumbent Third Districtrepresentative, and Shows, the Democrat incumbent Fourth Districtrepresentative, are meeting in the newly-created Third Districtfollowing this year’s redistricting. Mississippi’s congressionaldelegation was reduced from five representatives to four becausethe state’s population grew more slowly than other states.

The representatives will also debate Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. inMonticello at the Lawrence County Civic Center and Tuesday at 7p.m. in McComb at the Southwest Mississippi Regional MedicalCenter.

In special elections in Lincoln County, Watkins said ClayMcMorris had submitted his petition to run for coroner-medicalexaminer. The petition requires the signatures of 50 registeredvoters in the county.

“We’re in the process of verifying those names,” Watkinssaid.

McMorris was appointed coroner following Morris Henderson’sresignation earlier this year. The winner will serve the remainderof the term and face re-election next year.

Watkins said there had been no qualifiers in the specialelection for District 3 election commissioner. Floy McClelland wasappointed to the post following her husband Bernard’s death lastyear.

Candidates can qualify by a petition with the signatures of 50registered voters in the district.

In an area district race, Watkins said Danny Smith had qualifiedwith the Secretary of State’s office to run for district attorney.Smith was DA for Lincoln, Pike and Walthall counties after DunnLampton was named U.S. attorney last year.

The winner of this year’s special election for district attorneywill serve the remainder of the term and also face re-election nextyear.

The deadline for candidates to qualify for special elections isSept. 3.

Regularly-scheduled races appearing on the November ballotinclude ones for U.S. Senate, state Supreme Court justice, 15thDistrict chancery court judge, 14th District Circuit Court Judgeand Lincoln County School Board District 4 – West Lincoln.

Watkins said school board candidates may qualify beginningWednesday and will need the signatures of 50 registered voters inthe district. The qualifying deadline for that race is Sept. 6.

Watkins said there has been little public interest in thisyear’s elections so far, but she expected that to change in thefuture.

“It’s really been quiet,” Watkins said. “I’m sure it will pickup as we get closer to the general election.”