Bishop going Republican for re-election bid

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, February 20, 2011

A countywide incumbent switched parties and the firstindependent candidate joined a crowded race for the tax officeduring the seventh week of qualifying for elected office.

Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop qualified to run for afourth term as a Republican, abandoning the Democratic party thatbrought him into office in 2000.

“In order to be true to my core beliefs about my responsibility asan individual, my view of how government should operate, I had toqualify to run as a Republican,” Bishop said.

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Bishop said his political affiliation switch would not affect howhe runs the chancery clerk’s office, an office that handles family-and land-related matters as directed by the court. He said being aservant to Lincoln County citizens in the office has been an11-year privilege.

“I don’t think most people voted for me the first time because Iran as a Democrat, and I don’t believe most people are going tovote for me this time because I’m running as a Republican,” hesaid. “I trust folks will vote for me because they know I take careof this office and help them when they come in, and I think that’sthe reason people vote for any elected official – because theythink he’s the best person for the job.”

Bishop is the first and only person so far to qualify for thechancery clerk’s office.

While Bishop chose one party over another, tax office worker MavisHenderson Stewart chose neither. The 13-year deputy tax assessorqualified as an Independent and became the fifth candidate seekingthe job of Lincoln County Tax Assessor/Collector.

“To me, independent is for the people, and that’s what this jobrepresents,” she said. “I fill in many roles in the tax office – Icollect, assess, solid waste. I do it all. I love what I do and I’mqualified.”

Stewart is the third current tax office employee to qualify for thetop job, joining Democrats April Byrd Williford and Vewanna PeavyNations. Also in the race are Republican Brookhaven City Clerk MikeJinks and Democratic State Bank officer Becky Bartram.

Incumbent tax collector Nancy Jordan has not qualified and onFriday declined to comment on her intentions.

After seven weeks of qualifying, the list of local candidatesseeking county, district and statewide offices stands at 50. Thefast-approaching deadline to qualify for local offices is March 1,while the deadline for legislative offices is June 1.

This year’s primary election will be held Aug. 2, with runoffs onAug. 23 where necessary. The 2011 general election falls on Nov.8.

So far, the hottest race on the tentative ballot is the contest forLincoln County Justice Court Judge in Post Two, where this week’saddition of State Bank employee Martha Brister Robison brings thefield of candidates to six. The new Democratic candidate will facefour other Democrats – businessman Doyle Bratton, retired statetrooper Carl Brown, businessman Roger Martin and justice courtworker Terry Lane Nations – and one Republican, driver’s licenseofficer Chris King.

The race for the judgeship in Post One features four Democraticcandidates, with incumbent judge Ralph Boone facing sheriff’sdeputy Charles Ralph Smith, Jr., retired policeman Joe Portrey andHarold E. King.

The widest field is for Lincoln County supervisor, where 11Democratic candidates are competing for the five seats around thetable.

District Two Supervisor Bobby Watts is facing challenges from DonSmith and Jimmy Diamond; District Four Supervisor Doug Moak isfacing Charles Davis and Eddie Brown; and District Five SupervisorGary Walker is facing Benjie J. Smith and Dudley Nations.

District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson and District ThreeSupervisor Nolan Williamson are so far unopposed.

Six Democrats are running for the two constable positions, withPost One incumbent Kelly Porter going against Bruce Smith and ClintEarls, and Post Two incumbent Lavon Boyd facing Kirby Ebbers andTroy Floyd.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing is facing a pair of Democraticchallengers, running against policeman Mahundis Brice and retiredstate trooper Johnny Leggett.

Four county and district Democrats – Lincoln County School DistrictSuperintendent Terry Brister, Lincoln County Coroner Clay McMorris,Lincoln County Surveyor Joe Byrd and District Attorney Dee Bates -are so far running unopposed.

Additionally, two incumbent legislators have qualified forre-election. District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, isseeking an eighth term, while District 91 Rep. Bob Evans,D-Monticello, is running for his second term.

“To me, it’s a way to be involved with the things that happen todayand set the policy for what’s going to happen in the future,” Moaksaid. “That’s exciting to me, and I believe I’m still able to offersome good ideas to the body, and I hope I do some good for mycommunity all at the same time.”

Moak, chairman of the House Gaming Committee, said he’s raisedaround $235,000 for his re-election bid. Political observers oftenname him as a possible candidate for Speaker of the House in2012.

Evans, meanwhile, called his first four sessions “frustrating.” Hewants to return to the Legislature and continue the fight.

“I think I’ve been able to accomplish a few things that werehelpful for my district, as well as the state,” he said. “Iunderstand the way things work a little bit more and I can help outa little more.”

Evans and Moak are so far the only candidates who have qualifiedfor their positions, and District 92 Rep. Becky Currie,R-Brookhaven, is the only candidate to qualify for hers.