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Two new faces joining ranks of election panel

Voters returned incumbents to several Lincoln County offices Tuesday, including the Enterprise school board seat, but two new faces will join the ranks of election commissioners.

     In the District Four election commissioner race, Betty Carroll Rushing, a Democrat, was defeated by Republican challenger John Giust. Giust garnered about 55 percent of the vote, 1,899 votes, to Rushing’s 44 percent, or 1,536 votes, according to unofficial results containing all votes except affidavit ballots.

     Rushing had been appointed to the District Four seat in January following Janie Sisco’s resignation.

     In District Three, Stan Long will replace Barbara Davis as election commissioner, though not by electoral victory. Davis declined to seek re-election, and Long was unopposed to replace her.

     Long is a Republican, as was Davis.

     Two other Democratic election commissioners managed to fend off Republican challengers.

     In District Two, Michael Byrne defeated challenger Tiffany Spencer Furr. Byrne earned 1,748 votes, 58 percent, to Furr’s 1,251, 41 percent.

     “I appreciate the people letting me do it,” Byrne said of another term.

     In District Five, Marsha Britt Warren narrowly beat challenger Greg Russell by 1,712 votes, 52 percent to 1,565 votes, 47 percent.

     “I’m glad I’m still here,” Warren said. “There’s a lot I want to accomplish.”

     Warren said she intends to continue learning more about her post for the good of the county.

     “I want to keep the county moving forward,” she said.

     In District One, James Tillman was unopposed for re-election.

     Reviewing his victory, Giust said he’s ready to begin preparing for his new duties.

     “I plan on learning my job and seeing if there’s any improvement to be made,” Giust said. “I’m new at the job so I will be learning.”

     A retired firefighter, Giust moved to Brookhaven more than two years ago from Dayton, Ohio.

     A strong advocate of voter identification laws, Giust counted himself surprised Mississippi’s new voter ID requirements weren’t in force during Tuesday’s election.

     “There was some hitch in there; I don’t know what it was,” Giust said.

     Due to the state’s history of discriminating against minority voters, the U.S. Department of Justice must approve any changes to voting laws in Mississippi. It hasn’t yet pre-cleared Mississippi’s law.

     Giust pledged to do anything he can to support a voter ID law in Missisisppi.

     Lincoln County Republican Party Chairman John Roberts had urged Giust to run, and Roberts was encouraged by Giust’s victory.

     “This is the first time in history we’ve had two Republican election commissioners (in Lincoln County),” Roberts said, speaking of Long and Giust.

     Roberts believes Lincoln County voters are increasingly receptive to local Republican candidates and that “the R in front of his name” aided Giust.

     However, Giust didn’t take anything for granted, Roberts said.

     “He worked very hard,” Roberts said. “For him not to have lived here long and win, he had to have been doing something.”

     With District Four Supervisor Eddie Brown’s recent switch to the GOP and President Obama’s Tuesday win, Roberts believes more party switchers and Republican victories are in the future.

     “We’re a red county,” Roberts said.

     In the nonpartisan race for Lincoln Count school board, Kay Coon successfully won re-election to the School Board District One seat. She garnered 688 votes, 51.7 percent, while her opponent Martha Cole Lewman received 642 votes, 48.2 percent.

     “I am excited that we won,” Coon said. “I’m just looking forward to making the schools better.”

     Among her goals for a new term, Coon wants to continue upgrading the facilities of Lincoln County projects and improve area academics.

     In the School Board District Two seat, Johnny L. Hart faced no opposition to take the seat currently held by Stacey Newell.