Area counties feature several contested races

Published 3:32 am Sunday, November 6, 2011

Area counties are primed for the finalround of the voting season as Election Day takes center stage thisweek.

    Circuit Clerk Sandy Brister said the races in Lawrence County areof great public interest, especially since two supervisor races,the sheriff’s race and the superintendent of education race areincluded on the ballot.

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    The county school district seeks a new leader after Tammy GivensFairburn defeated incumbent Tony Davis in a runoff for theDemocratic nomination. Also in the race are Republican Daryl J.Scoggin and two independents: Amos D. Bridges and Dr. OneidaSibley-Butler.

    Incumbent Democratic supervisors Billy Joe Boutwell, of DistrictTwo, and Jerry Wayne Smithie, of District Three, seek to keep theirpositions in Tuesday’s election. Boutwell faces independent JosephEvans, and Smithie takes on Republican Kenneth D. Platt andindependent Keith Beard.

    Other Lawrence County races include Sheriff Joel Thames, aDemocrat, facing Republican Brad Davis and independent Willie J.Collins Jr.; Democratic incumbent Albert Turnage against RepublicanWilliam C. Barton for Post One Justice Court Judge; ConstableLessie J. Butler, a Democrat, against Republican Ben “Tony”Johnson  in Post One; andDemocrat Royce Renfroe and Republican Heather Sistrunk Barton vyingfor Constable Post Two.

    Brister hopes the local races, the elections for state positionsand the statewide ballot initiatives will draw a better voterturnout than the August primaries did.

    “I was disappointed in the primaries,” he said. “But we have theinitiatives and the contested state races that ought to bringpeople out.”

    He said absentee voting in Lawrence County is running at a typicallevel compared to previous elections. As of Wednesday, he saidabout 250 absentee ballots had been cast.

    “We encourage people to come out and exercise their right to vote,”he added. “I can’t imagine folks not wanting to vote after thesacrifices and things people have made to give us that right.”

    Franklin County Circuit Clerk Millie Thornton reports similarabsentee sentiments. About 260 had been cast as of Thursday, whichshe said was about normal.

    “We had 326 in the primaries,” she said. “Turnout overall was verylow in the primaries. I was surprised there wasn’t a biggerturnout. Everyone should vote because they can’t really complain ifthey don’t vote.”

    Franklin County races include Democrat Sheriff James Newman againstRepublican David Shell; Democrat Jerry L. Howell, District Foursupervisor, against Republican W. Dennis Calcote; and DemocraticPost Two Justice Court Judge Jerry “Pudgie” Crane againstindependents G. B. “Buddy” Blackwell and Ron Smith.

    In Copiah County, Circuit Clerk Edna Stevens said public interestin the races is picking up as Election Day approaches.

    “We are having quite a few people come in and vote absenteeballots,” Stevens said. “It’s starting to pick up some.”

    She said the total as of Wednesday for absentee ballots was alittle over 300, which she described as normal. She added sheexpected a solid turnout on Election Day.

    “I expect a good turnout,” she said. “I can’t say whether it willbe better than expected as at the primaries or runoffs, but I doexpect it to be good.”

    Copiah voters have three contested county races to decide Tuesdayin addition to the state races and ballot initiatives.

    Sheriff Harold L. Jones, a Democrat, faces off against RepublicanEllis Denver Howell Jr. and independent candidate Jimmy D.Strong.

    Democratic Justice Court Judge Lillie V. McKenzie aims to keep herPost One position as independent candidate Albert Sterling Tatechallenges.

    And Democrat Ronnie Earls hopes to hold his place at Constable PostTwo when he faces Republican Steven K. Footé and independent JamesH. Whittington.