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Chancery clerk: Campaign hard, be nice, pray

Qualifying for the Lincoln County elections begin in one month and one man who won’t be putting his name on a ballot again has some advice for those who will — campaign hard, be nice and pray.

“Don’t let any of your candidates outwork you. If you get outworked, you’ll get beat,” said Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop, who will retire in 2019 after two decades in the office.

Qualifying for that vacant seat as well as several others opens Jan. 2 and continues through 5 p.m. March 1. Applications with fees must be filed with the Lincoln County Circuit Clerk’s office.

Besides chancery clerk, county offices to be elected are district attorney, sheriff, chancery clerk, circuit clerk, tax assessor/collector, coroner, county attorney, surveyor, supervisors, justice court judges and constables.

Individuals planning to run either Republican or Democrat pay a $100 fee. Those qualifying as independent pay a $100 fee and must return forms with 50 qualified electors’ signatures.

All candidates must file a statement of economic interest electronically with the Mississippi Ethics Commission within 15 days of qualifying for office.

Bishop said several people have expressed an interest in his position and have questioned him about his duties as chancery clerk. He hopes whoever replaces him doesn’t dismantle his office. Some of his employees in the small staff were there when he took over after his predecessor retired 20 years ago.

“I would like to see somebody who would not come into the office with a ‘clean house’ mentality,” he said. “There’s a good staff in there and they know what they’re doing.”

Bishop suggests candidates for any of the offices run clean campaigns.

“Don’t be negative toward your opponent. People just don’t like that,” he said. “If you start talking negative about your opponent, you’ll lose more than you gain and it’s just not right. You have your own campaign to run and they have theirs and let that be that.”

He advises it’s important to pick the right entourage during a campaign and to expect both bumpy rides and smooth sailing.

“You don’t need a tremendous amount of people around you, you just need the right ones,” he said. “Just like friendship. Most people don’t have a lot of friends, they just have the right ones. Same thing when you’re a candidate. I’ve had some good people.

“It’s a roller coaster ride emotionally. You can be up one day and down the next. You have to be able to speak to somebody who will encourage you and not lie to you, you have to trust them.”

The Primary Election Day is Aug. 6, with a runoff election set for Aug. 27.

General Election Day is Nov. 5.

Bishop predicts there will be more losers than winners.

“There’s a certain amount of people who will be victorious. There will be more people that lose than win,” he said. “You have to go into it with the mentality that we’re going to trust the Lord to the end and we’re going to celebrate it no matter what it is.”

Having a thick skin is also helpful.

“People will actually talk about you and you just have to have a little huddle with your family before it gets started and say ‘Look, we’re going to grab a hold of this thing and let the Lord lead us and celebrate the end no matter what it is,’” he said. “You have to go into with that mentality or you’ll have your feelings hurt.

Tillmon Bishop