Clearing Up Campaign Confusion

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, September 25, 2011

Candidates for some county positions haveto work a little harder to let voters know they are options foroffice in the Nov. 8 general election.

    Constables and justice court judges run by post: Post One and PostTwo. Some candidates indicated confusion among voters as to whichpost they reside in and, therefore, vote in.

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    “Nobody knows,” quipped Raymond Boutwell, an independent candidatefor Post One justice court judge. “I didn’t know when I startedrunning.”

    In Post One, Boutwell faces Democrat Joe Portrey and Republican ArtLikens.

    Boutwell said he believes part of the problem stems from the factthat so few county positions are divided by post. He pointed outthat the supervisors are divided differently, by district.

    Likens believes the confusion is especially evident in Brookhaven’scity limits.

    “It sure zigzags in town,” said Likens, referring to the PostOne/Post Two boundary line.

    Roughly speaking, the boundary follows Highway 51, with the westernhalf of the county being Post One and the eastern half being PostTwo.

    In Brookhaven, though, Post One crosses 51 and takes in part of thecity. Deviations from the 51 line also exist in several placesfurther south of Brookhaven.

    Portrey said many voters do seem unaware of how the posts aredivided.

    “I don’t think a lot of folks know the constables and judges arepretty much half the county,” Portrey said.

    Lincoln County’s 32 voting precincts are divided with 15 in PostOne and 17 in Post Two.

    In relation to supervisor districts, all of Districts Four and Fiveare in Post One and all of District One is in Post Two.

    All but one precinct, New Sight, in District Two is in Post Two. InDistrict Three, the Bogue Chitto and City Hall precincts are inPost One while Enterprise, Norfield, Old Brook and Ruth are in PostTwo.

    Likens said some geography lessons are required before embarking ona campaign for constable or justice court.

     “We had to learn that sowe could tell people,” he said. “After doing that and walking it,you pretty much learn. You better learn.”

    Kirby Ebbers, a Post Two constable candidate, agreed that confusionprimarily exists in Brookhaven.

    “The people that are out in New Sight, Loyd Star, West Lincolndefinitely know what post they are in,” Ebbers said. “I think theissue is more in town where the line is.”

    Ebbers, a Republican, faces Democratic incumbent Lavon Boyd andindependent Gary Dickerson.

    Boyd said that the voters he has talked to have not expressed muchconfusion as to the issue.

    Boyd said since only Post Two constable is contested, that may havehelped to alleviate confusion. Incumbent Post One Constable KellyPorter, a Democrat, faces no challenger in the generalelection.

    Dickerson was unavailable for comment.

    Ebbers offered a point of agreement with Boutwell concerningsupervisors’ districts. Ebbers said voters seemed more likely toknow what supervisor’s district they were in than what post.

    Carl Brown, a Post Two justice court judge candidate, knowsfirsthand some of the difficulties voters may face in the city. Hepointed out it is a problem for candidates as well as voters.

    “Sometimes in different areas, I have the left side of the streetbut I don’t have the right side of the street,” Brown said. “It canbe a problem for the candidates if you don’t know quite where youare.”

    The Democratic Brown faces Republican candidate Chris King. Kingwas unavailable for comment.

    Whether they know what post they are in or not, voters can begincasting absentee ballots on Monday at the circuit clerk’s office.Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins said printed copies of ballotsprobably will not arrive until the middle of the week, but that heroffice can print a ballot for anyone that needs one beforethen.

    For unregistered voters, the deadline to register in time to votein the Nov. 8 general election is Oct. 9.