Tag Archive for: circuit clerk

NEMiss.News Union Co. Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford


The first day of qualifying for candidates seeking to serve in county office often brings surprise candidates. There was a twist in the surprise this year:

Phyllis Stanford, the popular circuit clerk of Union County for the last two decades, announced Tuesday, January 3, that she will NOT be a candidate for re-election this year.

Stanford surprised many of her friends with her decision. She said she had been weighing the choice for several weeks.

She intends to serve the remainder of the term to which she was elected in 2019 and will retire when that term expires at the end of 2023.

A number of candidates did qualify on Tuesday. All filed as Republicans. They were:
Jimmy Edwards, Sheriff
Luke Taylor, Constable West
Steve Watson, Supervisor 5th District
Annette Coffey, Chancery Clerk
Christy Adair, Circuit Clerk
Anthony Bullard, Sheriff
Michael Moody, Supervisor 3rd District
Chris Childers, Justice Court Judge, West
Randy Owen, Supervisor, 4th District
David Garrison, Justice Court Judge, East
Tameri Dunam, Tax Assessor/Collector
Pam Boman, Coroner
P. J. Doyle, Constable, East

Please share you thoughts or comments in the NEmiss.News comment section below.


NEMiss.News Greek Philosopher Diogenes


When they opened their offices this morning, Mississippi circuit clerks were ready for a unique aspect of their official duties.

It’s the first business day of an election year. It happens every four years. Most constitutional offices in the state, from governor to constable, are up for election during 2023.

In addition to their primary duties as administrators for the state’s circuit courts, Mississippi circuit clerks are also responsible for elections at the county level. Starting today, and for every business day until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, Mississippi circuit clerks will be dealing with people who want to be candidates for one of about two dozen available elective offices in every Mississippi county.

There are five openings for county supervisor, one for each of five supervisory districts. Each county will elect one sheriff, one chancery clerk, one circuit clerk, one collector/assessor and one county coroner. Two or more justice court judges and two or more constables will be elected in every county.

Candidates for these county offices will complete required paperwork at the circuit clerk’s office. They will pay a fee of $100, which will go to the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. Their names will then appear on the ballot for the party primaries on Tuesday, August 8. Those wishing to run as independent candidates, without party affiliation, must provide petitions signed by 50 qualified voters. Independent candidates are not required to pay the $100 party fee.

Those who receive the most votes on August 8th will be their party’s nominee, and their names will appear on the Tuesday, November 7th election ballot.

If no candidate receives a majority of his party’s votes in the August 8 primary, the top two vote getters will meet in run-off elections on Tuesday, August 29th.

Candidates for state offices including governor, state legislative seats, public service and transportation commission, etc. must file their candidacies with the office of the Mississippi Secretary of State in Jackson.

The ten MS state executive offices up for election are Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, Commissioner of Insurance, Public Service Commission (3 seats), and Transportation Commission (3 seats).

It will be interesting to see whether there are many local candidates for office in North Mississippi on the Democratic ticket. The state elections in 2019 were distinguished by a record number of candidates running as Republicans. For what is believed to have been the first time ever, there were actually run-off elections for Republican nominations for county offices in Union County.

After the 2019 election, many Union County candidates nominated and elected as Democrats, publicly declared their loyalty to the Republican Party.

If Old Diogenes were to go looking for a declared Democratic candidate in Union County in 2023, he would need a lot of oil for his lamp and extra leather for the soles of his sandals.

The fun starts today!

Absentee voting for the Nov. 3 election has begun in Union County and Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford said it is going smoothly.

“They have been very cooperative,” she said of those who have come to her office, and few voters have had questions.

As of Monday, 208 absentee ballots had been requested and 60 of them accepted back in Stanford’s office. “We’re just getting the first of them back in the mail today,” she said.

There is still some confusion about the proposed constitutional amendment on medical marijuana because of the voting choices and at least one voter has come to the office and requested an absentee ballot by mail, requiring it to be notarized before being returned, even though the person could easily have voted right then in person.

In addition to the elective offices, the ballot will include voting on a state flag and possibly removing an archaic rule governing state elections as well as legalizing use of marijuana for certain medical purposes.

Because the marijuana issue is somewhat more complex, the Secretary of State’s office is hosting public hearings on that initiative in each congressional district.

The hearing for this area will be Wednesday, Sept. 30, at The Ford Center at Ole Miss at 351 University Ave. The doors open at 5 p.m. with the hearing to begin at 5:30 with COVID-19 precautions.

Briefly, Initiative Measure No. 65 proposes to amend the Mississippi Constitution to allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana. This amendment would allow medical marijuana to be provided only by licensed treatment centers. The Mississippi State Department of Health would regulate and enforce the provisions of this amendment.​

Alternative Measure #65A is proposed as a legislative alternative measure to Initiative Measure No. 65 and would establish a program to allow the medical use of marijuana products by qualified persons with debilitating medical conditions.

A brochure with statements from those both supporting and opposing each alternative is available on the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website.

Voters have the opportunity to express two different preferences concerning the marijuana initiative.

First, one may vote for either 65 or 65A, or against both 65 and 65A. The second separate preference is to choose 65 or 65A, assuming they pass in the first choice. If a majority votes against both 65 and 65A in the first part, the issue is dead (but, curiously perhaps, the votes in the second part are still counted and announced). If a majority votes for one or the other in the first part of the ballot, then whichever gets a majority in the second part, 65 or 65A, becomes law if the winning choice also gets at least 40 percent of the total vote cast in the election.

If you vote against both 65 and 65A in the first part, you don’t have to vote in the second part for your ballot to be valid.

That’s the way state law works when an initiative is proposed, but the legislature doesn’t like it and wants to propose an alternative.

One other technicality that people often don’t notice, and that usually doesn’t matter, is that you will not vote for a presidential candidate. You will vote for an elector who theoretically will vote for that designated candidate in the Electoral College. Also, you probably will not recognize the names of four or five, at least, of the presidential candidates on the ballot representing what are considered to be third parties.

In Mississippi, all the presidential electors are given to the candidate who wins a plurality in the state (the selection of party delegates to state and national conventions can be more complicated, however).

Mississippi has only six electoral votes and tends to vote in a predictable manner, so the state has little influence in presidential elections (California has 55, Florida and New York have 29 each and Texas has 38, for instance).

To win the presidency, a candidate must receive at least 270 electoral votes.

Dates to remember

Monday, Oct. 5, at 5 p.m. is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election, or to update registration information if you have changed your address or legal name.

Stanford will have her office open this Saturday, Oct. 3, from 8 a.m. until noon for the convenience of those who want to register or are qualified to vote absentee ballots and cannot do so during the week when the office is normally open.

Not having updated registration information to match your ID could lead to a delay in voting and possibly even the vote’s being rejected, although you do have an opportunity to verify information in a specific time.

While there are about a dozen exemptions to qualify for voting an absentee ballot in the circuit clerk’s office, one can only get a mail-in ballot if he or she is 65 or older (your ballot must be notarized), is temporarily or permanently disabled, will be away from the area during voting hours (the ballot will be sent to the away address) or either is under a physician-imposed COVID-19 quarantine or caring for someone who is under such a quarantine.

Of course an approved photo ID is still required when voting.

If you have gotten married, needed a passport, registered to vote, voted absentee or had busy with the circuit court system here in the past two decades, you may know Linda Wells.

She has served as deputy circuit clerk for more than 21 years but retired this past Friday.

“I actually worked for Thomas Stanford one year,” she said. “He just wanted someone part-time to help with the election.”

When Stanford retired and his brother, Billy Stanford, won the circuit clerk’s job, he asked Wells to stay.

When Phyllis Stanford was appointed and then elected circuit clerk after her husband Billy’s death, Wells continued in her role.

She said she had many jobs in the past but when she first began in the clerk’s office she had been taking care of her father who was ill. A native of Sturgis, Miss., she and her husband, James,  moved here in March 1997.

“He was pastor at Grace Pointe Church of God when it was on the north side before moving,” she said. He still fills in and performs other pastoral duties.

Not incidentally, he has helped hold elections for many years, starting when what has been the NEMCC precinct until recently was still voting at the Scout Hut by the Methodist Church.

Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford and staff, along with the Union County Election Commissioners, held an informal reception for Wells and presented her with gifts this past week.

One of her primary jobs was to keep voter rolls up to date so she worked closely with the election commissioners.

She has no plans other than to take it easy and although she will miss seeing everyone she won’t really miss the very long days it takes to hold elections.

Amy Willard is the new deputy circuit clerk taking over for Wells.

From left, deputy clerks Holly Wilbanks, Helen Randle, Wells and circuit clerk Phyllis Stanford.

With Wells, center, are, from left, election commissioners Bill Azlin,Mike Beam, Barbara Reed and Wes Creighton. Wayne Wilhite was not present.

Traffic into the Union County Courthouse is still being tightly controlled due to the threat of spreading the coronavirus.

In particular, Tax Assessor-Collector Tameri Dunnam has had to stop access to inside her office with people who have business doing so at a counter at the office door, one at a time.

Dunnam said tax payments and tag renewals will continue to only be handled through the mail or over the phone.

However, Dunnam has placed two drop boxes outside the courthouse for the convenience of residents. One is in front of the courthouse and the other is outside the east entrance.

Dunnam said she checks the boxes at least twice a day and payments put in them can be processed much more quickly than by using the postal service. She added the boxes are secure enough for cash to be deposited if anyone chooses to do so.

Although tax payments and tag renewals will only be handled through the mail or over the phone, those registering a new vehicle may call for an appointment. The phone number to call for that is 534-1972.

Anyone with questions regarding land, mobile home or homestead may also call for an appointment. That number is 534-1973.

The Union County Circuit Clerk’s office is also providing only counter service at the door.

Only the automatic doors in the front of the courthouse is now being used for access to the tax office, the circuit clerk’s office or the election commission.

Traffic-control chains and signs have been placed to separate people entering and leaving, and keeping them from bunching up when several are waiting in line.

Masks are required for all appointments.

Dunnam reminds the public that these necessary changes are as disruptive for the staff as they are for the public.

“These changes make it harder for county employees to complete transactions,” Dunnam said. “Please be patient and understanding.”