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Candidate qualifying starts Thursday

The 2003 election season kicks off Thursday with the first dayof candidate qualifying, and Lincoln County Circuit Clerk TerryCase Watkins said interest is already running high.

“We’ve had some people call and inquire about qualifying in thedifferent races,” Watkins said Friday.

In addition to a full slate of state races, Lincoln County racesnext year include contests for sheriff, circuit clerk, chanceryclerk, tax assessor-collector, coroner-medical examiner,superintendent of education, five supervisor posts, two justicecourt judge positions and two constable offices.

Lincoln Countians, along with those in Pike and Walthallcounties, will also elect a district attorney. Legislative contestsinvolving Lincoln County include House Districts 53 and 92 andSenate District 39.

The qualifying deadline is Feb. 28. March 1, the normaldeadline, falls on a Saturday, so the deadline was moved up to thelast working day prior to March 1, Watkins said.

“They’ll have two full months to qualify,” Watkins said.

Judging from comments heard so far, Watkins expects Thursday tobe a busy day in her office. Candidates for county offices willqualify in the circuit clerk’s office while candidates inmulti-county races will qualify with the political party at thestate level.

“I’ve heard several people tell us they’ll be here on Jan. 2 toqualify,” Watkins said.

Those people included incumbents and some first-time officeseekers. However, Watkins did not identify the future candidates orthe offices sought.

Supervisors races, in general, attract a large field ofcandidates for the five county offices.

Watkins expects that to be the case again next year and,following long-time incumbent Cliff Givens’ death earlier thisyear, for District 1 to have the largest field of candidates. Whenan office-holder dies or retires after a lengthy career, she saidthe office attracts a lot of qualifiers in the next election.

“That’s pretty much the norm,” Watkins said.

Qualified candidates will have several months to campaign forvotes.

The first party primaries are scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 5.Party primary runoffs, where necessary, will be held Tuesday, Aug.26.

Party primary winners will go on to face each other in thegeneral election on Tuesday, Nov. 4.