Judge, school board races also on ballot

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 4, 2002

While the race between fellow incumbent U.S. Reps. Ronnie Showsand Chip Pickering has gotten much attention, Lincoln Countyelection officials are reminding voters that judges’ election and acounty school board contest are also on Tuesday’s ballot.

Circuit Clerk Terry Case Watkins said voter interest in theupcoming election is high.

“If absentee ballots are any indication, it is,” Watkinssaid.

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Watkins referred to over 300 absentee ballots that had been castby late last week either in office or sent out by mail. Saturdaywas the last day to vote absentee in the clerk’s office and Mondayis the last day to receive absentee ballots by mail.

Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Watkins addedthat she was optimistic about a good turnout Tuesday although shedid not offer an estimate on expected voter participation.

The congressonal contest between the Republican Pickering andthe Demcorat Shows and the 14th District Circuit Court Judge racehave received most of the voters’ attention.

In the judge race, which involves Lincoln, Pike and Walthallcounties, Judges Keith Starrett and Mike Smith are facingchallenges from McComb attorneys Charles Miller and Jack Price.Miller and Price have been active in their efforts to unseat theincumbents.

The judge race features a unique ballot siutation in that votersmay choose to vote for one or two of the candidates. Watkinsreported progress in efforts to inform voters about thatsituation.

“We’ve had a couple of people asking about voting for two in thejudge’s race,” Watkins said. “I think people are geting to be alittle more educated about that.”

If a person votes for only one candidate, Watkins said theirvote will count; however, she is encouraging people to make use ofthe second vote.

“We have two judges and you should vote for two people,” Watkinssaid.

A runoff, if necessary, would be held Nov. 19.

Other races on Tuesday’s ballots have received less voterinterest, Watkins indicated.

“Everything else has been pretty much the norm,” she said.

In a contested county school board race, Educational District4-West Lincoln representative James Keen is going for a second termagainst Steve Rushing, an investigator with the Lincoln CountySheriff’s Department. Only voters in the Arlington and West Lincolnprecincts and parts of the Johnson Grove and Zetus precincts willparticipate in that school board race.

While local attention may be less than other contests, a racefor a spot on the state Supreme Court is garnering statewide andnational interest.

In that race, incumbent Justice Chuck McRae is opposed byattorney Jess Dickinson and chancery judge Larry Buffington. Thecontest has been marked by heavy financial contributions, withtrial and labor union interests backing McRae and businessinterests in support of Dickinson.

Also regarding judges, voters will decide on a constitutionalamendment regarding their terms. The amendment, if approved, wouldincrease circuit and chancery court judges’ terms from four yearsto six years.