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Republicans plan citywide primary

For the first time in recent memory, Republicans in Brookhavenare looking at a citywide primary next Tuesday.

Municipal elections in Brookhaven have sporadically seenRepublican primaries, said Republican Temporary Municipal ChairmanDennis Valentine, though the most recent was eight years ago whencurrent Mayor Bob Massengill was first elected to the board ofaldermen as the representative from Ward Four.

“I would expect a heavy Republican turnout in Ward Four thisyear,” Valentine said. “But I would think it would probably belight in the other five wards.”

Traditionally Republican Ward Four will see a primary face-offbetween incumbent Alderwoman Shirley Estes and challenger AsemZeini. The winner will face Independent David Smith in the generalelection.

The alderman at large race will consist of a Republican primarybetween Sullivan and Terry Pappas, while L. Ralph Smith and RonnieBass will square off in the Democratic primary. The primary winnerswill meet in the June general election.

That alderman at large primary race will call on some Republicanvoters to choose between party loyalty and ward concerns, Valentinesaid. Ward Four alderman will be the only other contested race onTuesday’s Republican primary ballot.

“We’ll see if people are more loyal to the party or more loyalto the candidate that’s running a race in their ward,” he said,explaining that casting a vote in the Republican citywide electionwould mean that a voter cannot weigh in on a Democratic primary inhis own ward. “The other five wards, if you vote in the Republicanprimary, you don’t get a say, and some of those will be decided inthe primary.”

Valentine echoed the sentiments of many voters who take issuewith that separation of party voting when he said it might actuallyhelp the city to have nonpartisan elections.

“There’s been no reason at all on a municipal level to have aparty affiliation, all these races for years with the fewexceptions have been uncontested,” he said. “Now this year isdifferent because we’ve got the citywide Republican primary. But Iwould think maybe at some point we should have nonpartisanmunicipal elections.”

In addition to trying to get Republicans to the polls to vote,Valentine said he’s looking for Republicans to work the polls aswell.

“We’re still short a few poll workers for the Republicanprimary,” he said. “This is the first time in history that I canremember we’ve had one citywide, though I’m a relative newcomer.I’ve only been here 31 years.”

Also on the Republican ballot will be candidates for a permanentRepublican committee, Valentine said.

The city has not had one since at least eight years ago, thelast time there was a primary in the party. There are 10 candidateson the ballot, and 10 spots to be filled.

“Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is holding people’s feet tothe fire to comply with election laws, and we’re required to havethe Republican Temporary Committee for the candidates, then theynominate candidates for the permanent committee,” he said, addingthat a member of the temporary committee was also sent to atraining session to learn the ins and outs of running theelection.

Anyone interested in helping work the polls for the RepublicanParty Tuesday is encouraged to call Valentine at 601-757-1885.