Field finalized for election official vote
With the final slate of candidates drawn up, at least one incumbent election commissioner is on the way out, and three others must withstand challenges to survive this November’s elections.
Greg Russell will face incumbent Marsha Warren in District Five. In District Four, John Giust will oppose Betty Carroll Rushing. Rushing was appointed to the post of District Two election commissioner in January following the resignation of Janie Sisco.
Russell and Giust were the last two candidates to sign up before the qualifying deadline earlier this month.
In District Two, Tiffany Spencer Furr seeks to unseat incumbent Mike Byrne.
In District One, James Tillman is the only incumbent who will face no challengers.
In District Three, newcomer Stan Long faces no opposition to replace incumbent Barbara Davis, who chose not to seek re-election.
Candidates have declared party affiliation, but there will be no partisan primaries prior to the Nov. 6 elections.
Giust, Russell and Furr all filed as Republicans. Byrne, Long, Rushing and Tillman all identified as Democrats. Warren did not indicate a party affiliation on her filing papers.
Russell said he’s been thinking about running for office since the elections of last November. He said he wants to increase the efficiency of the elections process and see a quicker turnaround on election night.
“When I went to bed, I knew who won in Lawrence County and Copiah and Pike counties but I wasn’t sure who won in Lincoln County,” said Russell, describing the long process of counting votes in last year’s elections.
Russell said the position requires the ability to work with the electronic voting machines and be very comfortable with computers.
“I think more and more the job requires some technical expertise,” Russell said.
Russell worked in electronics maintenance for 10 years and taught electronics technology for 15 years at both Copiah-Lincoln Community College and in the Jackson Public School system.
Russell is a graduate of Loyd Star Attendance Center and Co-Lin and believes in community involvement.
“Community activism is part of my history and part of what I think is important,” Russell said. “I’ve been active in our community for a long time.”
Russell’s opponent Warren is completing her first full term as an election commissioner and believes she has a solid job record to build on.
“I think I’ve done a good job,” Warren said. “I try to make sure the elections are run fair and smooth. I believe in what I’m doing.”
Warren also pointed to her leadership positions with the Election Commissioners’ Association of Mississippi as a mark of a strong record. She’s on the board of directors for the association, and serves on its legislative committee. She’s the only Lincoln County election commissioner currently serving with the organization.
District Four challenger Giust is a more recent transplant to the community, but he’s got a strong interest in building his ties here.
“I want to contribute something to the community,” Giust said. “I’ve been wanting to do something since I’ve been here.”
Giust said those desires solidified into a plan to run for office after John Roberts, Lincoln County’s Republican Party chairman, urged him to consider a run.
Giust and his wife moved to Brookhaven from Dayton, Ohio, about two years ago to be near their son, Mark Giust. Giust served as a firefighter for 29 years in Dayton, retiring as a captain. He also served for two years as the department’s communications officer.
In discussing his qualifications for the job, Giust described his strong desire to see fair elections.
“I would like to make sure the integrity of the vote is there,” Giust said.
Giust said he wants to ensure voter fraud is prevented and that the voter rolls are kept accurate. He also said he’s an advocate of the voter ID law approved by Mississippi voters last year requiring state-issued photo identification to cast a vote at the polls.
Prepared with enthusiasm for the office, Giust feels ready for a campaign and the job responsibilities that he hopes follow.
“I don’t think it’s a very prestigious job; I don’t think it’s a hard job,” Giust said. “It’s something I know I could do.”
In previous interviews, Rushing has pointed to the experience she’s earning as qualifying her for a full term.