• 63°

Four sign up to seek sheriff post

There was a flurry of activity at the Lincoln County CircuitClerk’s Office Tuesday morning for the first day of candidatequalifying for the 2007 primary elections in August.

“We’ve had a busy day today,” Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkinssaid Tuesday afternoon.

The passage of the busiest day in the qualifying periodindicates the race for sheriff will be the most hotly contested,Watkins said.

Incumbent Sheriff Steve Rushing was one of four candidates toqualify for the office Tuesday. Other qualifiers included fellowDemocrats Lynn Boyte and B.W. Pitts and Republican TerryHarper.

Rushing, a veteran of more than 10 years with the department,was appointed in September after former Sheriff Wiley Calcoteresigned.

Boyte, a retired Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol trooper, wasLincoln County sheriff for 16 years before he lost to Calcote fouryears ago.

Pitts, a former Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department deputy,resigned last month after three years there. He has also served oneyear with the Brookhaven Police Department and more than 11 yearsin Jones County as a deputy and Ellisville police officer.

Harper, a truck driver, received his law enforcement trainingwith the U.S. Air Force Security Police. He has served seven yearsin the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department under Boyte, one year asa Pike County Sheriff’s Department deputy and more than four yearsas a guard at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

The Post One Justice Court Judge position is vacant with JudgeJudy Case Martin’s public announcement that she will not be seekingre-election. Three Democrats, Ralph Boone, Art Likens and ValerieShelby-Sterling, qualified Tuesday for that office.

The Post Two Justice Court Judge office is uncertain. IncumbentJudge Billy Joe “B.J.” Price has said he is undecided on whether hewill seek re-election and has promised to announce his intentionswithin the next two weeks.

Tuesday, however, Democrats Ann Reeves and Chris King qualifiedfor the office to ensure a race there.

Three incumbents received early challenges for the Democraticprimaries. District Four Supervisor Doug Moak was challenged byformer supervisor Eddie Brown while Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishopwill face Maxine McCoy Jones and Post One Constable Charles RalphSmith will meet Kelly Porter.

Only one candidate, sheriff candidate Harper, chose to run withthe Republican party Tuesday, Watkins said.

“We may still see more, but right now we only have the onecandidate,” she said.

No candidates have qualified to run as independents.

Qualifiers for other county offices include:

* Circuit Clerk – incumbent Watkins.

* Tax Assessor/Collector – incumbent Nancy Jordan.

* Coroner – incumbent Clay McMorris.

* Post Two Constable – incumbent Lavon Boyd.

* District One Supervisor – incumbent the Rev. Jerry Wilson.

* District Two Supervisor – incumbent Bobby Watts.

* District Three Supervisor – incumbent Nolan EarlWilliamson.

* District Five Supervisor – incumbent Gary Walker.

In state races, only incumbents qualified with their respectiveparties to campaign for local regional offices.

District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and District 53 Rep. BobbyMoak filed qualifying papers with the Mississippi Democratic PartyTuesday, said Terry Cassreino, the party’s communicationsdirector.

There were no Republican candidates who qualified to run inlocal House or Senate races, said Katy Apostle, communicationsdirector for the Mississippi Republican Party. She said the officewas still compiling its lists of candidates after a busy day,however, and that was subject to change.

“It’s changing by the minute,” Apostle said. “We have a stack ofqualifying papers we’re still trying to get added to the list.”

The only Republican incumbent from the local area in theLegislature is District 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett. Barnett has saidhe would announce his future intentions on Jan. 22 after resolvingsome personal issues.

Candidates have until March 1 to announce their candidacy forstate and county government offices.

Party primaries are Aug. 7, with runoffs Aug. 28 where needed.The general election is Nov. 6.