Tag Archive for: election


Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation.

FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports.

Poland, Slovakia to send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine.



Over half of Mississippians struggling to pay household bills, the most in the nation

A recent Household Pulse Survey by the Census Bureau found that more than half of Mississippians (52.9%) are struggling to pay typical household bills. This is the highest percentage in the nation and the only one over 50%. Mississippi narrowly edges out neighboring Alabama which came in second at 49.7% and far exceeds the national average of 39.7%. 

Over that same period (the week of Feb. 4-13), Mississippi was 5th in the nation at 48.6% among states whose residents fear eviction or foreclosure in the next two months. Mississippians also led in the category of householders that were unable to pay an energy bill in full in the last 12 months with 30.5%.

Median household income is the lowest in the nation at $46,637, far below the national average of $70,784. Recent data shows that Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the nation with 19.07%.

State Republicans suddenly remember this is an election year

During the pandemic, states received millions in federal dollars to help people get through the economic downturn. Despite the great need, average Mississippians received far less help than people in other states. Instead, the state government decided to use this windfall to push for income tax cuts.

While income tax reduction is popular in the state (62%), the suspension of the state’s 7% grocery tax is far more popular (74%). Mississippi is one of the few states to tax groceries and has the highest rate of any of them. Grocery taxes disproportionately burden the poor while income tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthy. But the state’s Republican leadership hasn’t considered using the state’s surplus to cut grocery taxes, despite rising food costs. 

State legislators recently narrowly rejected proposals that would have eliminated income taxes in the state. This means the stalled bills likely won’t move forward in this year’s legislative session. However, House Ways and Means Chairman Trey Lamar said the bills’ failure was “more of a timing issue with some of these representatives as opposed to any real opposition to income tax elimination. Coming off the heels of last year’s income tax bill, and this being an election year, there are a few that would just prefer to wait a little longer before making further cuts”.

Reeves believes life begins at conception, but when does it end?

In a rare win for public welfare in the state, Gov. Reeves has just signed a bill to extend Medicaid coverage to new mothers and babies from 60 days after birth to 12 months.

Mississippi has some of the worst rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality in the country. Until Reeves signed this latest bill, Mississippi was the only state in the nation that had neither extended Medicaid coverage for new mothers nor expanded Medicaid eligibility overall. 

Reeves touted expanding Medicaid coverage for new moms and babies to 12 months as being in line with the state’s pro-life stance. However, Reeves was quick to remind us he still opposes expanding eligibility for Medicaid for low-income families under Obamacare. Maybe Reeves thinks life ends at 12 months?


FAA seeks to address string of near-collisions at US airports

So far in 2023, there have been at least nine near-collisions of commercial airplanes at eight US airports. That number may seems small in light of the fact that there are about 45,000 flights taking off each day. But when you consider the hundreds of lives put at risk each time, even one near-miss is unacceptable.

The circumstances vary in each case, but in some instances, the near-miss was the result of air traffic control clearing two planes to use the same runway. This was the case in the most dramatic near-collision in Austin, TX, in which a FedEx cargo plane came within 100 feet of a Southwest Airlines passenger plane. Controllers had cleared the FedEx plane to land on the same runway where the Southwest Airlines flight was taking off. In this case, it was the quick thinking of the FedEx pilot that averted disaster, rather than any action by air traffic control.  

On Wednesday, FAA held an emergency summit this week, its first in 14 years, to discuss the issue. The panel of aviation experts cited low staffing numbers at the FAA and a lack of experience among new hires as a major factor. The staffing issues come at the same time that US demand for air travel is surging, making accidents and near-accidents more likely.

It may also be significant that 8 of the 9 incidents took place after an outage of the FAA’s automated NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system which notifies pilots of potential hazards they may encounter during their flights. The NOTAM system went dark late in the night of Jan. 10 and grounded all flights in the US for two hours the following morning. An investigation found that the outage was the result of FAA contractors deleting files.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Poland, Slovakia send Soviet-era jets to Ukraine

After nearly a year of requests from Kiev, Poland yesterday agreed to send about a dozen Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Today, Slovakia followed suit, promising 13 MiG-29s. At the time of Russia’s invasion last year, Ukraine had several dozen MiG-29s that it had retained following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s not clear how many of these remain in service over a year later.

According to Slovakia’s Defense Minister, the European Union is offering Slovakia 200 million euros ($213 million) in compensation for giving the jets to Ukraine. Slovakia will also receive $745 million in unspecified arms from the US, the minister said. There’s no reporting on whether Poland is receiving similar compensation for its pledge. However, Poland’s Defense Minister did mention that they would be replacing their MiGs with South Korean and American-made fighter jets.

The White House says it was informed of Poland’s decision before it was announced. Biden has long been under pressure to give Ukraine F-16s, a request the US has so far steadfastly refused. National Security advisor John Kirby neither endorsed nor condemned Poland and Slovakia’s decision, but said it would have no bearing on the US position on sending F-16s. 

Unlike F-16s, Ukraine’s fighter pilots require no additional training to fly MiG-29s. But maintaining them may pose a problem. Slovakia had previously grounded its MiG-29 fleet due to difficulties obtaining spare parts and the departure of Russian maintenance workers.

Click here for the full story (opens in new tab).



Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

NEMiss.News Judge Kelly Luther and friends


Circuit Judge J. Kelly Luther visited with friends Tuesday evening at a gathering in New Albany hosted by District 14 State Representative Sam Creekmore IV.

Judge Luther has been elected to two terms as a judge of the Third Circuit Court District. He is seeking a third term in the general election next Tuesday, November 8.  By the end of the year he will have served a total of 32 years as a prosecutor or judge in the Third District, which includes Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Lafayette, Marshall, Tippah and Union counties. This is a non-partisan election with candidates running without political party affiliation.

Judge Luther says his favorite role as a circuit judge is helping people successfully complete the “drug court” program. Drug court is a highly structured system in which drug offenders work directly with the court to complete a rehabilitation plan and stay off of illegal drugs. People in the program report regularly to the judge over-seeing their case. The objective is to get drug offenders off of drugs and started on building productive lives.

“Drug court is the part of my job where I get to see real results,” said Judge Luther.

The judge said he recently attended a youth sports event in which parents were watching as their children played flag football. “I had put several of those parents through drug court,” he said. “When they started drug court many of them didn’t even have custody of their children. It was the best time I had had in 20 years — watching those folks watch their children play football. They had recovered from drug abuse, were employed, enjoying productive lives, supporting their families, watching them play football.”



Newly-elected New Albany city officials eased into their four-year term with a low-key aldermen’s meeting Tuesday.

Mayor Tim Kent, Chief of Police Chris Robertson, Ward One Alderman Parks Smith, Ward Two Alderman Drew Horn, Ward Four Alderman Will Tucker and Alderman-at-Large Keith Conlee were given the oath of office by municipal judge Regan Russell.

Ward Three Alderman Kevin Dale White was unable to be present and will be sworn in at a later date.

This was a first for Smith and Horn while the other officials are incumbents.

Street improvements

Among other business, Mayor Tim Kent reported that the long-awaited resurfacing of Moss Hill Drive is complete, except for some side striping.

He proposed that the next street project be Carter Avenue since it is the main entrance to downtown from I-22 and is experiencing buckling and other damage.

Kent said he had an estimate of $1.6 million to do the repairs. The problem is partly that the concrete beneath the asphalt is buckling due to temperature changes and to repair the street would mean cutting sections of the concrete out and replacing it with an expandable filler.

Adding to the problem is that there is six inches of asphalt on top of the street, which comprises five inches of the old concrete.

Kent said one way to cut cost would be to repair sections of the street over time.

After paying for Moss Hill Drive, the city has about $1.7 million in the street maintenance fund, Municipal Clerk Frankie Roberts said.

Aldermen asked about which streets might be repaired next. One possibility was to try to evenly distribute work among the wards. The other was to use the engineering study done a couple of years ago and repair streets according to the greatest need, regardless of which ward they are in.

Kent said the city has the equipment to do milling of small street areas, but would still run into the problem of finding a contractor willing to undertake relatively small jobs.

Another option is to use the cape seal process to repair some streets with less excessive damage. This process using a chip seal covered with a smooth slurry top, but cape sealing is only available from a company in this area about once a year. That will be in the fall.

The board took no action on the matter.

Personal appearance

In personal appearances, Adrian Ivy had been scheduled to appear before the board to talk about establishing a semi-pro adult football league. He was unable to be there because of a conflict but will attend a future meeting.

Departmental business

In department business, New Albany Light, Gas and Water Manager Bill Mattox again got permission to pay bills on construction of the new wastewater treatment plant scheduled to go into service later this summer. A $111, 711.21 payment went to KAJACS Construction while $10,191 went to ESI engineers.

The approximately $15 million project will replace the old current plant and is being paid for through a USDA grant and loan to be paid back through user fees.

Mattox also received permission to pay Looks Great Services $201,357 and $211,249 for right-of-way clearing.

Aldermen gave him permission to purchase a half-ton truck at state contract price to go along with three others in the process of being purchased.

Finally, Mattox gave an update on a program approved earlier this year in an effort to save money on natural gas costs.

By prepaying for the gas, the department will get a discount depending on market conditions. It took some time to get the agreement in place but Mattox said as of this week the city department is getting a discount of 30 cents for each thousand cubic feet – a 30-percent discount. Price changes are passed on to customers.

In community development, deputy director Tracy Vainisi gave an update of plans to improve the Alabama Street park. New playground equipment is ready to be ordered and the existing equipment will be rehabilitated and modified for use by younger children and handicapped users. She also provided information about a possible splash pad for the park.

The improvements are being paid for with a $15,000 Kaboom grant, a $10,000 match from the city and private donations, which Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud said will be adequately covered.

Interim park director Chase Jeter gave an update on the extensive list of activities going on at the sportsplex.

Fire Chief Mark Whiteside received permission to fill a vacancy by hiring Heath Brown. Whiteside said Brown is the last remaining candidate in the hiring pool, so he needs to advertise for candidates for a new pool.

The purpose of the pool is to pre-qualify candidates to learn if they can pass the same physical test they would face at the fire academy. Before the pool was established, the department sometimes employed firefighters for some time only to eventually learn they could not pass academy requirements. The pool solves that problem.

Whiteside gave aldermen an update on the recent state fire chiefs association, in which New Albany and Union County are well-represented.

Whiteside said the retired chief Steve Coker was nominated for and named to lifetime membership and given the status of a respected elder member. Coker also serves as vice-president of the association board representing the northeast region.

Building inspector and zoning administrator Eric Thomas reported that the planning and zoning board had approved requests for variance to the city code requirement for siding. The two businesses are Custom Nonwoven at 1015 Munsford Drive and El Agave at 105 Gap Drive.

The zoning board also approved changing the zoning for Looxahoma LLC at 890 Sam T. Barkley Drive from R-2 residential to C-2 commercial. The change will require a public hearing to be finally approved and that hearing will take place during the August city board meeting.

General business

In other general business, aldermen reappointed Billye Jean Stroud to represent New Albany on the GM&O Rails to Trails Board of Directors.

Aldermen also rehired all city employees for the four-year term and reappointed all department managers.

Before adjourning, the board went into executive session to discuss possible litigation but no formal vote was reported. Part of the discussion apparently related to the city’s plan to replace all streetlights because of some funding technicality.

The next scheduled board meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3, although a called meeting may be needed to discuss the plan to renovate the former Fred’s building or some other matter.


One hundred and ninety-one of Mississippi’s 297 municipalities will participate in Mississippi’s Municipal General Election Day on Tuesday.

Here, voters will officially choose a mayor, chief of police and five aldermen – four from wards and one at-large.

All New Albany registered voters should go to the community center on Wilson Street to cast their ballots.

Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. Any voter in line at 7 p.m. is entitled to cast a ballot.

Remember to have your approved photo ID in order to vote. A voter without an acceptable form of photo identification is entitled to cast an affidavit ballot. An affidavit ballot may be counted if the voter provides an acceptable form of photo identification to the Municipal Clerk’s Office within five business days after the election.

It is unlawful to campaign for any candidate within 150 feet of any entrance to a polling place, unless on private property.

Loitering is not allowed near the polling place. It should be clear for 30 feet from every entrance of all people except elections officials, voters waiting to vote, or authorized poll watchers.

Voters are prohibited from taking pictures of their marked ballot.

If you requested a mail-in absentee ballot, it must be postmarked no later than Election Day Tuesday and received by Municipal Clerks Offices within five business days of General Election Day in order to count.

Votes will again be counted in the main courtroom at the county courthouse. Because only four boxes will have to be counted, results may be available by 8:30 p.m. or earlier.

Voters are encouraged to practice good hygiene and follow CDC guidelines at the polls.

Anyone with questions may call New Albany City Hall at 662-534-1010 or the Secretary of State’s election hotline at 601-576-2550 or 1-800-829-6786.


New Albany voters have a chance to help shape the future of the city in the municipal general election tomorrow, June 8.

Four municipal offices, each of them important to how city government policy and practice will be determined until July, 2025, will be filled on that date.

New Albany voters will elect a mayor, an alderman-at-large and aldermen for two of the town’s four Wards. The races for police chief and aldermen for Wards Three and Four were settled when the incumbents in those positions won their party primary races last month and face no opponents in the general election.

This article will discuss the race for for mayor.

Four-term incumbent Tim Kent is being challenged by military veteran and retiree James Dean. Dean is running as a Democrat while Kent, after running as a Democrat in previous races, switched to the Republican Party.

Dean was unopposed in the April 6 Democratic primary, receiving the 226 votes cast in that race.

Kent won the Republican nomination but former school superintendent Chuck Garrett presented a strong challenge, getting 514 votes to Kent’s 592 (46.4 percent to 53.6 percent).

Kent is largely running on his record, citing economic growth including industries such as Toyota, Diversity Vuteq, S and A Industries and more.

Kent is credited with taking the lead in bringing about the 43-mile Tanglefoot Trail and necessary funding when officials in other cities failed to see the potential. The trail draws visitors internationally and has been added to the National Rails to Trails Hall of Fame. He also promoted the trailhead plaza that has become a popular social and small event site and the added welcome center near the library.

Other improvements include a new Main Street trail bridge, renovation of the community center and surrounding park, sportsplex expansion including tennis, soccer and baseball, multi-million dollar expansion of the city’s widely respected museum and more quality of life enhancements including education and healthcare.

New Albany has been singled out by Southern Living Magazine, USA Today and other entities as being the “best” in several categories such as Southern small town, small town and place to live.

Other infrastructure milestones include construction of a $15 million wastewater treatment plant to open this summer and purchase of the former Fred’s and WIC buildings to be renovated as a municipal complex.

Goals and challenges include improving or replacing the popular spray park, developing the Tallahatchie River more for recreation and tourism and making more street repairs.

Under his administration the city has maintained a comparatively low tax levy while retail sales and tourism tax revenue has consistently grown.

He credits his success to the people in the community working together.

Before his election to the mayoral post, Kent served as an investigator and officer for the New Albany Police Department for 11 years and worked for an insurance agency for 12 years prior to that. He graduated from W.P. Daniel High School in 1975 and received degrees from Northeast Mississippi Community College in 1977 and the University of North Alabama in 1980.

New Albany native Dean is a Vietnam army veteran with two Bronze Stars to his credit.

He said he wants to return government in New Albany back to the people and make the city more responsive when people bring up issues. He believes the people do not have a voice and he can make some changes to affect that.

He would have an open-door policy welcoming citizens in without need for appointments.

Dean wants to focus on small businesses, especially some that may feel neglected by city government. As businesses prosper, that will mean more jobs and more shoppers, although he believes there are many types of stores lacking in New Albany.

Following his honorable discharge from the army, Dean graduated with a degree in electronics from the DeVry Institute of Technology.

Currently, Dean is retired, but previously he worked for five years at Futorian Furniture Manufacturing. He also worked for AT&T for 26 years as a lineman, installer and repair technician.

In addition, Dean worked at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center for five years and for Flexible Foam in Baldwyn for five years.

He is the minister of music at the Holy Temple Church of God.

Dean is also a member of Concerned Veterans of Union County Past, Present and Future.


New Albany Municipal Clerk Frankie Roberts said qualified voters can begin casting absentee ballots for the June 8 general election starting Tuesday.

Typically, absentee ballots are to be available about 45 days before an election. There are ready here now because no runoff election was needed. If it had been held it would have been today and ballots for June 8 could not be approved until runoff results were certified.

Some races were settled in the party primaries so each voter will only have two or three offices to make choices concerning

Incumbent Republican mayor Tim Kent is being challenged by Democrat James Dean.

Incumbent alderman-at-large Keith Conlee is being challenged by Independent J. Lynn West.

Ward One will see Democrat Jessica Winston, Republican Ashley Kidd and Independent Parks Smith vying for the seat vacated by incumbent Amy Livingston’s decision not to seek re-election.

Ward Two will have Democrat Tim Johnson and Republican Drew Horn competing for the seat vacated by the retirement of long-time alderman Johnny Anderson.

Police Chief Chris Robertson had no challenger.

Democratic Ward Three Alderman Kevin Dale White and Republican Ward Four Alderman Will Tucker won their respective primaries and will be unchallenged in the June 8 general election.

Absentee ballots can be cast at City Hall, or by mail.

A properly registered voter can cast an absentee ballot early for reasons including:

  • The voter’s being outside of his or her home county on Election Day.
  • Being a student, teacher or administrator at a school whose studies or employment there necessitates absence from the voter’s home county on Election Day.
  • Being the spouse or dependent of such voters above.
  • Being disabled.
  • Being the parent or spouse of a disabled person hospitalized outside the county and more than 50 miles away on Election Day.
  • Being 65 years old or older.
  • Being required to work Election Day throughout the polling hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To cast an absentee vote by mail, a voter needs to request a ballot from the municipal clerk, who will send an application and ballot with instructions on how to complete and return them.

The municipal clerk’s office will be open from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday, May 8, for voter registration. The deadline to register to vote is May 10 and a voter can register at City Hall or the circuit clerk’s office in the courthouse.

The clerk’s office will be open again, from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday, May 29, this time for absentee voting.

The deadline for in-person absentee voting will be at noon Saturday, June 5, and Roberts’ office will be open from 8 a.m. until noon that day.

Absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the Municipal Clerk’s Office within five business days.

Two hundred and thirty-seven people cast ballots in the Democratic primary while 1,026 participated in the Republican primary (based on the mayor’s race). That’s about one-third of the registered voters.

Officials fear turnout for the June 8 general election may be even lower because some of the races have been settled and some people may be out of town for the beginning of after-school summer.

New Albany municipal primary elections were moved to the renovated community center on Wilson Street. Election officials said they were pleased with the move so the June 8 vote will be there, probably along with subsequent elections.

The change of venue afforded much more space and avoided traffic problems with residents who needed to use county courthouse services.

It was thought that lack of parking around the community center might be a problem but voters were able to move in and out fairly quickly most of the day and it was rare for anyone to have to park more than half a block away.

Although the focus has been on New Albany elections so far, nearly all Mississippi municipalities will go to the polls as well.

An exception of the Town of Myrtle. Because the exact number of candidates needed for aldermen and mayor qualified, state election officials said there was no practical reason to go to the trouble and expense of holding an election.

Serving for the next four years will be Mayor Micheal Canerday and Aldermen Milton McDonald, Cynthia Parks, Dustin Rasberry, Teresa Smith and Sean Wiginton.

The Village of Blue Springs was almost in the same situation but ended up with six candidates for the five at-large aldermen’s spots. They also have two candidates for mayor.

Incumbent mayor Rita Gentry is being challenged by Mike Walker.

Candidates for aldermen include Bradford Goodwin, Rhonda Pannell Horton, Jimmy Hutcheson, Kevin Rackley, Lorence Strange and Renna Tolbert.

All the candidates for aldermen are newcomers to Blue Springs politics. None of the five current aldermen-at-large chose to seek re-election.

The retiring aldermen are Shirley Allen, Rick Bradford, Lynda Bramlett, Andrew Grisham and Malcom Leath.

Anyone with questions about the New Albany election may call Municipal Clerk Frankie Roberts at 662-534-1010 or go to City Hall.





New Albany Municipal Clerk Frankie Roberts spent time Monday getting the community center ready for Tuesday’s party primary elections. Most municipalities will be holding the primaries.

A number of notices had to be posted to conform with CDC COVID-19 precautions as well as regulations regarding state election laws.

Voters will have social distancing, entering one door and exiting through another, moving to the registration area and then the divided area where the voting machines will be placed. Cotton swabs will be available to touch the voting machines and hand sanitizer will be available as well.

Voting is at the community center at 307 Wilson Street with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters must choose between the Democratic and Republican primaries and must have an approved photo ID. Campaigning is not allowed within 150 feet of the doors.

The votes will be counted in the circuit courtroom upstairs in the county courthouse.

Here are the two ballots to choose from:


Democratic Primary



James Dean

Chief of Police

No candidate


No candidate

Ward One Alderman

Jessica Winston

Ward Two Alderman

Gary Edwards

Tim Johnson

Ward Three Alderman

Penny Blissett

Kevin Dale White

Ward Four Alderman

No candidate




Republican Primary


Chuck Garrett

Tim Kent

Chief of Police

Chris Robertson


Keith Conlee

Jeff Knox

Ward One Alderman

Mark Bishop

Judith Bennett Foley

William Ashley Kidd

Ward Two Alderman

Jim Gann

Adam Hardy

David Drew Horn

Ward Three Alderman

No candidate

Ward Four Alderman

Diane Jones

Ronnie Parker

Will Tucker

The closed voting machines are stacked by the fireplace, ready for use Tuesday. The tables are equipped with plastic shields to protect voters.

New Albany Municipal Clerk Frankie Roberts and other election officials tested the voting machines Friday that will be used in the April 6 party primary elections about a week from now. Each machine is checked for accuracy and reliability as well as security before each use.

With Roberts, left, are city election commissioner Cheryl Brewer, Marian Bean, who is the technician with the voting machine company who compiles results, and election commissioner Mike Beam. Not present was commissioner Robin Lindsey.

The deadline to cast absentee ballots is noon next Saturday, April 3. Roberts will have City Hall open from 8 a.m. until noon today (March 27) and next Saturday, April 3, for the convenience of absentee voters.

This year, everyone will go to the community center on Wilson Street to vote April 6. Votes will be counted in the circuit courtroom in the courthouse as usual, however, because that is where the server is located that works with state election data.

In second photo an unidentified representative of the election software company the city is using delivers the computer and scanner Roberts will use in the election. The city is trying out software that allows printing absentee ballots on demand rather than having them commercially printed in bulk elsewhere.

NEMiss.News David Rainey takes oath


New Albany will elect a new city school board member in addition to the usual municipal elections for mayor, aldermen and police chief this year according to election officials.

The elections won’t be at the same time, however.

Regular municipal primaries will be April 6 with a general election June 8. The school trustee won’t be voted on until Nov. 2, in the special regular election.

The New Albany Municipal Separate School District has five trustees. Four are appointed by the mayor and board of aldermen while a fifth is elected from residents in the so-called added territory outside the corporate limits, mostly a large area in the northeast part of the county that is outside city limits but still is the city school district.

Trustees serve staggered five-year terms. The added territory must furnish 15 percent of the city students to have a representative; if it furnished 30 percent the added territory would get two trustees instead of one.

The current trustee from the added territory is David Rainey. Rainey defeated Lisa Parker five years ago to win the seat that had been held by Jerry Tate for nearly 16 years before retiring.

The qualifying period for the city school board seat this year will be Wednesday, Aug. 4, through Friday, Sept. 3.

To qualify to run for the school board one must be a certified elector, a resident of the added territory the past two years, and not have been convicted of any of a list of mostly felony crimes. The candidate must have a high school diploma or equivalent and, upon election and taking office, complete a basic training course within six months and certify continuing education each year.

New Albany school trustees include David Rainey, Jill Shaw, Barbara Washington, Mark Garrett and Ren Nelson.


Union County School Board fills vacancy but still has unexpired term

The Union County School District also has a trustee election coming up, but apparently not this year.

Unlike the city school district, all five county school trustees are elected.

The post of trustee representing Union County School District Five, in the East Union area, was on the ballot this past November but no one qualified. At least two persons, including incumbent Wayne Mahon, were reported interested but did not submit candidacy papers by the deadline, citing illness as reasons.

State law does not address dealing with a case of having no candidate, but it does address filling vacancies and, with no one elected, a District Five vacancy occurred Jan. 1.

The law allows the four remaining county school trustees to appoint a replacement within 60 days and permanently fill the post for the remainder of the term at the next regular general election. This November will see a special election instead.

The incumbent county school board appointed Wayne Mahon to the post he has held Jan. 2 and he will serve until the election.

According to Mississippi Code, trustees serve staggered six-year terms.

Current county school trustees include Terry Cook, District 1; Mickey Basil, District 2; Mike Browning, District 3; Daphnia McMillen, District 4; and Wayne Mahon, District 5.

The county school districts do not occupy the same area as the county supervisors’ districts, partly due to shifting caused by the presence of the city school added territory.

The map below shows the city and county school districts. The city district and added territory appear in orange in the center and upper right on the map.


NEMiss.News Tupelo City Hall 2021 elections

Almost any year in Mississippi, an editor can be accurate writing a headline that says: “It’s election year.”

You may or may not be tired of politics after the wild 2020 presidential election, but there’s more electioneering to come, starting in less than a month.

The state has the distinction of scattering its various elections over four-year period for most offices, whether it is presidential, state level, county, congressional, judicial or educational.

This coming year will see all municipal and some school board elections.

Most area towns will elect mayors and aldermen, the number and designation depending on the size of the town and form of government.

Mississippi has three types of municipalities. Cities have populations of 2,000 or more, towns have 300 to 1,999 and villages have 100 to 299 citizens.

NEMiss.news New Albany city hallNew Albany and Pontotoc have the mayor-board of aldermen form of government. There is a mayor, four aldermen from four wards the city is divided into based on population, and one alderman-at-large elected from the entire city.

If a city’s population goes to 10,000 or more, the number of aldermen increases to seven. New Albany is getting fairly close to that number but probably won’t hit it until the next Census. Even if New Albany reaches a population of 10,000, the results probably won’t be ready in time to affect next year’s elections. Redrawing ward boundaries would likely prove to be an arduous process.

Tupelo, with its larger population, has a mayor-council system, which gives the mayor slightly more power than in the mayor-aldermen form and includes seven council members chosen from seven wards.

Smaller towns and villages in our area have a mayor and five aldermen who are all chosen at large from the entire municipality rather than any one ward.

New Albany is unusual in that it remains one of the few cities that still elects its city marshal or chief of police. Most are appointed.

Aldermen can change this to an appointive position if they wish, and they did so with the former office of municipal clerk several years ago, making it no longer elective.

Although some potential candidates announce their intentions earlier, the official qualifying period for municipal elections begins Jan. 4. Both political party and independent candidates have until a 5 p.m. Feb. 5 deadline to qualify to run.

The primary election to choose political party nominees for the general election will be April 6. If no candidate in a race receives 50 percent of the vote or more, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff April 27.

The actual general election will be June 8 including party nominees from the primaries and independent candidates. The winners will take office July1.

Some special school trustees will be elected next year as well. The qualifying period runs from Aug. 4 to Sept. 3 and that general election will be Nov. 2.

If you want to run for municipal office, you of course have to be a qualified registered voter of the municipality and ward you are seeking office for.

You must have been a resident of the municipality or ward for at least two years prior to Election Day and not have been convicted of any of a variety crimes, mostly felonies.

If you want to run for a school board, you must be a resident of the district as well as a qualified elector. You also must have a high school diploma or equivalent and successfully complete a training course within six months of election. Continuing education is required as well.

During the campaign and after the election, candidates are required to file various financial reports with the secretary of state’s office.

Candidates may announce affiliation with a political party or run as Independents. Party candidates compete in the April primary while the independent candidates only appear on the June ballot.

A person who plans to run as a Democrat or Republican must submit a “Qualifying Statement of Intent for a Candidate for Party Nomination,” to the city clerk, along with a $10 qualifying fee by the Feb. 5 deadline. The clerk then sends this to the secretary of the appropriate party executive committee.

Candidates who choose to run as Independents have to submit a similar form, a “Qualifying Statement of Intent for an Independent Candidate,” by the Feb. 5 deadline. There is no fee for independents.

A qualifying petition must be signed by at least 50 registered voters of the municipality or ward for which the candidate is seeking office. The municipal clerk must then certify that those signing the petitions are indeed registered voters in the city or ward.

All candidates seeking office in the 2021 Primary or General Elections are required to file a Statement of Economic Interest with the Mississippi Ethics Commission within 15 days of qualifying. Incumbents must file on or before May 1.

Mississippi law also requires all candidates for elective office to file campaign finance disclosure reports, regardless of whether he or she has received or spent any money campaigning.

For more specific information about requirements and forms, one may contact the appropriate municipal clerk or go to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.ms.us., where forms are available.

Pontotoc City Hall

Here are the unofficial votes totals from Tuesday listed by Union County precinct.

Totals may not add up to 100 percent in some cases.

Some voters did not mark a choice in some of the issues on the ballot while some voted for more than once choice. In explicably, several voters marked every candidate for president, for instance, essentially invalidating that vote.

The part of the ballot relating to legalizing medical marijuana was slightly different.

If a voter made a choice in the first half of that part but did not choose either in the second part, the first part of the vote still counts. In fact, 2, 894 voters did not indicate a preference for either initiative 65 or 65A. Also, 1,194 voters made no choice between accepting one of the proposals and rejecting both.

These totals do include the approximately 1,700 absentee ballots but not the affidavit ballots. The latter will not become official until voters bring confirmation of their information or identification to the circuit clerk’s office within five business days.

Click on the chart to enlarge.

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.