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Local races pick up new candidates

The county superintendent and chancery clerk picked up theirfirst competitors and the race for circuit clerk intensified thisweek during the eighth and final full week of qualifying forelected office.

Brookhaven High School Principal Dr. Jay Smith is looking to leavethe city and take charge in the county, qualifying on Friday tochallenge two-term incumbent Terry Brister for the job ofsuperintendent for the Lincoln County School District. The42-year-old school administrator and U.S. Army veteran said he’s upto the task of steering the four county schools.

“I got into this 18 years ago for children, and 18 years later I’mstill in it for the children,” Smith said. “My vision for theLincoln County School District is for it to be a showplace foracademic excellence and extracurricular greatness. There’s noreason we can’t do both.”

Before he can implement his vision, Smith will have to walk awayfrom the Democratic primary with a victory over Brister, who’sseeking a third term to continue work on his own vision.

“We have visions and goals we’re in the process of completing, fromacademics to physical sites. I love what I’m doing and I want tosee it come to completion,” he said.

Last week also saw two Democrats qualify for the job of LincolnCounty chancery clerk, filling a void in that party left whenthree-term incumbent Tillmon Bishop switched to the RepublicanParty. Volunteer coordinator Maxine McCoy Jones – who ran againstBishop in 2007 – and businessman Roger Dale Leggett will competefor the chance to face Bishop in the general election.

“It’s an opportunity for me to serve the citizens of LincolnCounty. Everything I do in my life … is about serving thecommunity,” said Jones, a Girl Scout leader and former Big BrotherBig Sister coordinator. “Service is in my background – it’s whatI’m good at, what I love to do.”

Leggett, meanwhile, is looking to bring his business experience tothe office. He works part-time with Woodmen of the World LifeInsurance and does probation monitoring with the Lincoln CountyJustice Court, and has 25 years experience in the apparelbusiness.

“My qualifications will allow me to do the job for sure. I have alot of qualifications built around planning, running factories,groups of factories,” he said. “I think we have to put a businesstechnique into government.”

Two more businessmen have stepped forward to challenge for LincolnCounty circuit clerk – Democrat Josh Davis and Republican MikeWalley. Their entry into the race makes it a four-person affair,with incumbent Democrat Terry Lynn Watkins and Republican candidateDustin Bairfield having qualified earlier.

“When I went to college, I went for business, and I thought thisoffice was the perfect fit for me,” said Davis, who runs A and JPool Service and Catfish Plus in Jayess. “I’m more qualified forthis position than any other position out there.”

Walley is also behind a pair of businesses – his daughters runBrookhaven’s Southern Graphics and he has stock in Ward’srestaurant. He ran for the Lincoln County Election Commission in2010 as a Democrat, but said that party has gotten “a long wayaway” from his beliefs.

“Circuit clerk is a challenge – you’re doing things with the courtsystem, collecting fines. I’m used to handling money, and I think Ican do a good job in there,” he said.

Last week also saw several changes to the candidate list for PostTwo constable, with Republican Alica Gill Warren, Democrat BobbyRatcliff and Independent candidate Gary Dickerson qualifying.Candidate Kirby Ebbers also switched his allegiances from theDemocratic to the Republican Party.

Those candidates will face two other Democrats – incumbentConstable Lavon Boyd and challenger Troy Floyd.

The final full week of qualifying also saw Republican HowardWilliams qualify to challenge Democratic incumbent Nolan Williamsonfor the position of District Three supervisor, and Republican EdThompson joined the race for Lincoln County Justice Court Judge inPost One, facing Democrats incumbent Ralph Boone, Harold King, JoePortrey and Charles Ralph Smith.

The addition of those 10 office-seekers brings the number ofcandidates running for county and district offices to 58. Thedeadline to qualify is Tuesday at 5 p.m.

The 2011 primary election will be held on Aug. 2, with a runoff onAug. 23 if necessary. The general election falls on Nov. 8.

Other candidates running in 2011 include (all candidates areDemocrats unless otherwise noted):

• Constable Post One – Incumbent Kelly Porter, Clint Earls, BruceSmith

• Coroner – Incumbent Clay McMorris

• County Surveyor – Incumbent Joe Byrd

• District Attorney – Incumbent Dee Bates

• Justice Court Post Two – Doyle Bratton, Carl Brown, Chris King(R), Roger Martin, Terry Lane Nations, Martha BristerRobison.

• Representative 53 – Incumbent Bobby Moak

• Representative 92 – Incumbent Becky Currie (R)

• Senate 39 – Bill Boerner (R), Sally Doty (R), Dave Nichols (R),Michael Smith

• Sheriff – Incumbent Steve Rushing, Mahundis Brice, JohnnyLeggett

• Supervisor District One – Incumbent the Rev. Jerry Wilson

• Supervisor District Two – Incumbent Bobby Watts, Don Smith, JimmyDiamond

• Supervisor District Four – Incumbent Doug Moak, Charles Davis,Eddie Brown

• Supervisor District Five – Incumbent Gary Walker, Benjie J.Smith, Dudley Nations

• Tax Assessor/Collector – Becky Bartram, Mike Jinks (R), VewannaPeavy Nations, Mavis Henderson Stewart (I), April ByrdWilliford.