Area county races attract office-seekers

Published 3:58 am Sunday, January 9, 2011

As the qualifying gates swung open on Tuesday, the candidatepool began to take various shapes in the areas surrounding LincolnCounty.

After one week of qualifying in Copiah, Franklin and Lawrencecounties, 47 candidates have declared campaigns for countyoffices.

Franklin County

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As of noon Friday, Franklin County has seen 11 candidates tosstheir hats in the political ring, with roughly two months to gountil election bouts are set.

“The majority of us that have qualified, qualified that first day,”said Circuit Clerk Millie Thornton, who was one of eight to qualifyon Tuesday.

Franklin County has yet to see anyone step up to the plate forsheriff, coroner, District One supervisor, District Five supervisoror District One constable. However, Thornton said she was notconcerned with the lack of qualified candidates for the countypositions.

“I’m sure word is just getting out that it’s qualification time,”said Thornton. “I’m sure someone will be in.”

Thornton, who is in her third term as circuit clerk, added thatqualifying in Franklin County usually begins at a slow pace.

“Everything, I think, is pretty quiet,” said Thornton. “We’re asmall county and there’s just not a lot of talk going on overhere.”

As of Friday afternoon, several incumbents are running unopposed,including Thornton, Chancery Clerk Jill Jordan Gilbert, TaxAssessor/Collector Thomas J. Mullins IV, District Two SupervisorChad Smith, District Three Supervisor George Collins, District FourSupervisor Jerry L. Howell, District One Justice Court Judge RayEmfinger, District Two Justice Court Judge Jerry Crane and DistrictTwo Constable Tommy Myers.

The only contested race in Franklin County thus far is for theposition of superintendent of education. The race is currentlybetween incumbent Grady Fleming and Ray Carlock, who was the firstto qualify.

Copiah County

Copiah County has seen a few more candidates than FranklinCounty in the opening stages of qualifying, with 16 candidateslaunching their bids for elected positions. Of those, 13 areincumbents and three are challengers.

Copiah County Circuit Clerk Edna Stevens said qualifying in hercounty is off to a typical start.

“It will normally pick up a little (closer) to the deadline,” shesaid.

The 13 qualified incumbents include Stevens, Sheriff Harold L.Jones, Tax Assessor Todd Mooney, Tax Collector April S. Holloway,Superintendent of Education Rickey Clopton, County Attorney EliseB. Munn, Coroner Ellis A. Stuart, District Two Supervisor TerryChannell, District Three Supervisor Perry Hood, District FourSupervisor Kenneth Powell, District Five Supervisor Jimmy Phillips,Post One Justice Court Judge Lillie V. McKenzie and Post TwoJustice Court Judge Vicki Bass Ramsey.

Willie E. McKenny has qualified for Post Two constable and EllisDenver Howell, Jr., and Jimmy D. Strong will be challenging Jonesfor the title of sheriff.

Positions yet to see anyone qualify in Copiah County are chanceryclerk, District One supervisor and Post One constable.

Lawrence County

In the three surrounding counties, Lawrence County has seen themost action in terms of qualifying, with 20 candidates vying foroffice as of Friday. However, Circuit Clerk James Brister thinksthe start has been a bit sluggish.

“All in all, it’s a little slow,” he said. “That may mean peopleare happy with the folks they got in office.”

Lawrence County has 12 incumbents running for re-election,including Brister, Chancery Clerk Kevin Rayburn, Post One ConstableLessie J. Butler, Post One Justice Court Judge Albert Turnage, PostTwo Justice Court Judge Donnie G. Mullins, Sheriff Joel Thames,Superintendent of Education David A. Davis, District One SupervisorSteve Garrett, District Two Supervisor Billy Joe Boutwell, DistrictThree Supervisor Jerry Wayne Smithie, District Five SupervisorCoach Archie Ross and County Surveyor Monty E. Sanders.

As of Friday afternoon, Lawrence County has five offices beingcontested.

Mikell W. Sandifer and Royce Renfroe have qualified for theposition of Post Two constable, which will be open after currentPost Two constable Brad Davis has chosen to run for sheriff insteadof constable.

Other candidates running for office include Carolyn D. Smith forthe position of Post Two justice court judge, Tammy Givens Fairvurnfor the position of superintendent of education, Joseph Lea for theposition of District Two supervisor, Stanley L. Stephens forDistrict Four supervisor and Sherry Hyde Thames for taxcollector/assessor.

No one has qualified for county attorney or coroner as of Fridayafternoon.

As with the other counties, who might qualify in Lawrence Countywill remain in question until the March 1, 5 p.m. deadline.

“I kind of feel there will be a few more to trickle on in,” saidBrister. “But I don’t really know.”

Candidates are qualifying for the primary elections, which will beheld on Aug. 2.