Martin latest to sign up in clerk’s race

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, August 9, 2012

The race for Lincoln County circuit clerk has picked up a lawyer from Brookhaven, expanding the field of candidates to nine.

     Heather White Martin filed the qualifying paperwork to enter the race this week, identifying herself as a Republican. The Brookhaven native is an attorney with a Jackson firm and has been commuting for 10 years.

     She said she’s excited about the possibility of working near her home and family.

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     “It’s a great professional opportunity locally,” Martin said.

     Martin joins three other Republicans in the race: Dustin Bairfield, Terry Reid and Mike Walley. Democrats running include Josh Davis, Lenard King, Janie Wallace Sisco, L. Mike Smith and Paula Thames Smith.

     The Nov. 6 election won’t be preceded by a party primary. All candidates will appear on the same ballot, with a possible runoff election following.

     Martin is an attorney with Balch & Bingham, a firm specializing in corporate law. Her own particular focus is defending businesses in labor and employment matters.

     She said she also works with businesses and corporations to develop handbooks and policies.

     Martin believes her legal background would be very valuable in enabling her to succeed as circuit clerk.

     “It’s not practicing law, but it is related to the law,” Martin said of the clerk’s post.

     Before going to work with Balch & Bingham LLP, she graduated in 2004 from Mississippi College School of Law.

     Martin said she’s been continually challenged by her legal practice.

     “With employment, there’s a new issue every day,” Martin said. “You have to stay educated.”

     Martin said her legal background and courtroom experience is something most of the other candidates don’t have. She also highlighted various state and national leadership programs she’s been through, citing those as preparation to lead the clerk’s office and to “restore stability” and make the office more “accessible.”

     But Martin acknowledges she has a tough assignment now: competing in a crowded field of nine candidates, some of whom have been campaigning since January.

     “I’m going to work hard and ask for votes,” she said.

     She’s already been making campaign preparations and believes she’ll be ready to go next week.

     Martin, a 1997 Brookhaven High School graduate, said she’s been considering a run for the office since January, when Terry Lynn Watkins resigned. She was encouraged by a number of friends to take the chance on a campaign, but waited for several professional and personal matters to resolve before officially entering the race.

     She initially wasn’t attracted to the idea of a campaign, but said she decided the opportunity to work closer to her family, including her two children, was worth it.

     Martin’s husband, Roger Martin, unsuccessfully ran for justice court judge in 2011.