Time fast approaching for mayor and aldermen hopefuls to qualify to run for office

NEMiss.News Tupelo City Hall 2021 elections
December 17th, 2020     Featured News Government & Politics

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

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