Six in Lincoln County rest with no campaign challengers
As their fellow candidates set out hand-shaking on the campaign trail, six Lincoln County incumbents can rest easy knowing they’ve got their next four-year terms in the bag.
At the end of the two-month qualifying period for the November general election March 1, five Lincoln County candidates and a Brookhaven woman running for state office let out a collective sigh of relief — Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield, Coroner Clay McMorris, County Surveyor Joe Byrd, District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson, District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey and Rep. Becky Currie.
Bairfield, 49, a Republican, first took office in a special election in 2012. He was unopposed in 2015 and again this year.
“It’s a great feeling to run unopposed,” he said. “I feel very humble and grateful to the voters of Lincoln County to allow me the honor of being their circuit clerk. I always take pride in helping others and I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to serve the community.”
Though Bairfield didn’t win the first time he ran in 2011, he won the next year. He felt his passion for the court system and his prior law enforcement background would help him in the job if elected. With his wife and children, his staff and the community supporting him he has continued to run for the office.
“I still get up every morning enjoying and wanting to come to the courthouse to help others,” he said.
McMorris, 58, a Republican, was appointed as coroner in April 2002 following long-time Coroner Morris Henderson’s retirement and ran unopposed in a November 2002 special election to fill the remainder of the term. McMorris had been deputy coroner since 1995.
“I feel that it is a trust that has been given to me from the people of Lincoln County,” he said. “They have trusted me for 24 plus years — seven years in which I served as a deputy corner and 17 years as an elected Lincoln County coroner. I have the privilege of having three deputies who work alongside of me.”
McMorris said he feels called to public service.
“It has always been in my heart to help people, especially in one of the hardest times of their lives,” he said. “It is a leadership I feel that comes from God’s strength that he has given and for your trust in me and my deputies to serve you.”
Byrd, 56, a Republican, first ran in 2002. He’s been unopposed every election.
“They didn’t even realize it was an office at the circuit clerk’s office. I had to assure them that it was. They had to check to make sure because nobody had ran for it for probably 20 years.
It was vacant all that time, he said.
Byrd ran that first time because he was starting his business, Joe W. Byrd and Associates, and thought it would be good marketing to have his name on the ballot and also good credentials for his survey office.
He believes the position is not much in demand because it requires the candidate to be licensed by the state and it’s on a fee schedule with no salary.
“There’s not that many licensed surveyors around that could even qualify,” he said.
As county surveyor, Byrd works for the court in land dispute cases. He may not get a case for months at a time, he said.
Williamson, 69, a Republican, is entering his sixth four-year term as supervisor. He said he is humbled to serve his district for another four years.
“It feels good. Just joy on my part,” he said.
Williamson could retire, but likes to stay busy.
“I’m not one to go home and sit down,” he said. “I’ve worked all my life.”
Falvey, 76, a Republican, is in his second term as a county supervisor. He ran unsuccessfully 16 years ago.
“I said then that I’d never get into politics again, but I just saw some things going on in the county that I didn’t agree with and I just said, ‘I need to try it again,’ and I did,” he said. “The people in the county have been very good and very understanding. I just enjoy people and I enjoy working.”
Falvey wants to continue overlay projects on the roads and finish the bridge projects. He may even run again in his 80s.
“If my health holds out I’ll run another four years. We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I owe a lot of mine to my employees. I’ve got some good employees and they’ve worked hard and I appreciate them. I have to give credit to them.”
Currie, 61, a Republican from Brookhaven, is going into her fourth term representing District 92 — Lincoln, Lawrence and Copiah counties — in the House of Representatives.
She started her political journey as a member of Teenage Republicans.
“I worked on others’ campaigns and then decided that I could be of service to District 92 when Dr. Jim Barnett decided to retire,” she said.
She’s spent 40 years as a registered nurse, a career that allows her to help people.
“This puts me in a better position to continue to serve people in my district,” she said. “My expertise is still in health care though you learn so much about every aspect of government. It is hard to describe how rewarding it is to help a constituent get through the red tape of government to get to the resources they need to improve their lives.”
She is humbled to run unopposed.
“It is humbling that I have not drawn an opponent and I am proud that the people of District 92 approve of the hard work I have done for them and will continue to do,” she said. “I will always be available and willing to help serve everyone in my district.”