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Bairfield wins circuit clerk race runoff

When he received calls of congratulations from Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Dustin Bairfield knew the race he began two years ago was over: He’d won.

     Bairfield will take office as Lincoln County’s next circuit clerk, emerging victorious in Tuesday’s runoff election against opponent Janie Wallace Sisco.

     “It’s exciting,” Bairfield said as the final vote tallies were released by election commissioners Tuesday night and his victory was assured. “It’s overwhelming … in a good way.”

     Bairfield won with 53.2 percent of the vote to Sisco’s 46.6 percent of ballots, according to a final, but unofficial, vote tally, including absentee and affidavit ballots.

     Bairfield received 2,483 votes and Sisco 2,173, giving Bairfield a margin of 310 votes. Including five write-ins, 4,661 voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s runoff, a turnout rate of 18 percent of registered voters.

     Bairfield credited a strong get-out-the-vote effort with helping him cross the finish line Tuesday night.

     The circuit clerk-elect could take his oath of office and assume his duties as early as Friday, or perhaps not until next Monday, said interim Circuit Clerk Sherry Jordan.

     The county’s election commissioners must first certify the election before Bairfield can take office.

     The schedule of Circuit Court Judge Michael Taylor must also be accounted for, and he’s currently presiding over a case in Copiah County. Taylor will swear Bairfield in.

     Bairfield began seeking this office nearly two years ago when he qualified in February 2011 and went on to face incumbent Terry Lynn Watkins in that fall’s general elections.

     “It’s been a long two years,” Bairfield said Tuesday night.

     Reflecting on those two years, he emphasized that he didn’t go it alone.

     “It’s overwhelming, the support, the network of people that have helped me,” Bairfield said.

     With a victory attained, he’s not ready to ease off on the momentum, though, not yet.

     “I’m looking forward to day one,” Bairfield said.

     His first few days, maybe first few weeks, won’t be anything dramatic. Bairfield said he plans to slowly ease into the office and its rhythms, and he should have time to do that.

     “December is usually slow, but January is a busy time for trials,” Bairfield said.

     Bairfield will be leaving a job as captain with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and a total of about 20 years in law enforcement.

     Jordan has filled the role of circuit clerk since Watkins resigned in January. With only a few days at most left in office, Jordan reflected on her time as clerk.

     “I’ve enjoyed it, but I’m ready to give it up,” she said.

     She expressed relief in one of the conditions of her appointment to the interim post, that she not seek election to the office.

     “I’m glad I didn’t run,” Jordan said laughing.

     Bairfield will serve the remaining three years left of Watkins’ term before he faces the possibility of a campaign for re-election in the countywide elections of 2015.