Close margin in Brookhaven city elections

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, June 12, 2021

Only 40% of eligible voters turned out to vote this week in what was the closest mayoral race in recent memory.

Candidates in the Brookhaven mayoral race were separated by less than one percentage point, with incumbent Republican Joe C. Cox receiving 50.19% of the vote and Democrat challenger Larry Jointer taking 49.51%. The remaining 0.31% — nine votes — were write-ins.

“It was a great run. I did my best,” Jointer said. “I tried to reach every door, tried to reach every person. I was honest in what I said and very transparent. That’s what we need in our city.”

Jointer said he had no plans to contest the final certified vote, but will work for unity in Brookhaven.

“We need to be united in our city. The people spoke … they let Joe know and myself know that they are wanting change. We’ve got to do right by all the people. The people spoke and I heard it, and I think Joe heard it, and we know that people want some kind of change,” he said.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the citizens of Brookhaven for electing me to serve a third term,” Cox said. “I remain humbled by your support and honored to represent my hometown.”

“I look forward to working in union with our new Board of Aldermen in bringing viable solutions to the place we call home,” he said, “and continuing to move Brookhaven forward for all residents.”

As of Tuesday night, Alderman-at-Large Republican candidate Don Underwood had 50.12% of the vote to Democrat candidate Marilyn Dow-Harris’ 49.71% — less than one percent. There were five write-in votes, and only 12 votes separate the candidates’ totals.

Decisive victories were won in two alderman seats. Ward 6 challenger Democrat Andre’ Spiller defeated incumbent Independent Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill 265 to 176 — 60.09% of the vote. Harrigill had 39.91% and there were no write-ins. In Ward 3, Democrat candidate Charles J. Caston Sr. won 77.67% of the vote over Republican candidate Troy Douglas’ 21.75%. There were three write-in votes.

The other clear victory came in the chief of police race. Incumbent Democrat Kenneth Collins took 76.08% of the vote and Republican challenger Mike Milholen took 23.54%. There were 11 write-ins.

“I want to thank the citizens of Brookhaven for believing in me,” Collins said. “We’re going to continue to keep everybody safe because we are all God’s children. Thank you to everyone and their families.”

The other four Board of Aldermen races were decided during the primary or primary runoff — Democrat James Magee Jr. in Ward 1; incumbent Democrat Shannon Moore in Ward 2; Republican Jeff Henning in Ward 4; and incumbent Republican Fletcher Grice in Ward 5.

During the Municipal Election June 8, 40.4% of eligible voters cast ballots, meaning 59.6% of individuals who could have voted chose not to do so.

The numbers were lower in the April Primary Election and Primary Runoff.

In the April 6 primary, 2,347 of these cast ballots — 32.4%. In the primary runoff, 1,260 of the eligible 4,049 voters in Wards 1, 3 and 4 cast their ballots — a total of 31.1%. The city has more than 7,300 registered voters.

Across the state’s 200 city elections Tuesday, 60.17% of registered voters cast ballots — 1.325 million of 2.2 million eligible voters. Mississippi ranks 45 of the 50 states in voter participation, ranking higher than only Tennessee, West Virginia, Hawaii, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Seven states saw voter participation at 75% or higher — New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota — with the highest percentage at 79.96% in Minnesota.

With one affidavit ballot yet to be certified and 15 mail-in absentee ballots yet to be received — mail-ins must have been postmarked no later than Tuesday, June 8, and must be received in the office of City Clerk Samantha Melancon no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 15 — numbers will change marginally. The following results are based on machine totals from June 8, 20 curbside ballots from elderly or disabled voters, and 334 absentee ballots received prior to closing of the polls on election day.

Totals are unofficial and uncertified until certified in the office of the Secretary of State.