| By Billy Davis
A challenger who is running for District 3 county supervisor was among several incumbents who signed qualifying papers January 2.
Construction company owner Donnie Shaw registered Tuesday, the first day for qualifying, along with two supervisors, two court clerks, and several other incumbents.
Shaw, 54, said he signed qualifying papers quickly so he could begin campaigning for the District 3 seat.
"I want to meet everybody so that means I have to start early so I’ll have plenty of time," said Shaw, who said he lives south of the Tocowa community.
Shaw described himself as a homebuilder and land developer. He owns Shaw Construction Company.
The District 3 seat is currently held by Supervisor Mack Benson, who had not filled out qualifying papers by Thursday at noon.
Incumbents who turned in qualifying papers Tuesday in Batesville were district supervisors Bubba Waldrup and Jerry Perkins, Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock, County Attorney C. Gaines Baker, District 2 Constable Raye Hawkins, and Circuit Clerk Joe Reid.
At the county courthouse in Sardis, incumbents who signed qualifying paperwork January 2 included Supervisor James Birge and Justice Court Judge James Appleton.
By noon on Thursday, three challengers and two incumbents signed qualifying papers in Batesville: county coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge, Sheriff Hugh "Shot" Bright, and challengers Calvin Land, who is running for District 4 supervisor; Howard Brower, who is running for District 4 supervisor; and Michael Towles, who is running for District 5 supervisor.
In Sardis, District 1 Constable Cleve Gale had qualified since Tuesday as of noon on Thursday.
Asked what he planned to discuss on the campaign trail, Shaw said he wants to talk about economic development and the public school system, reminding voters about the industrial site near Como that could draw a mega-industry, such as an automotive plant.
"If we get a Nissan plant or something like that, we need to be ready," Shaw said. "We need to prepare for new families who want to move here, so they don’t work here and live somewhere else, and for their children who will become part of the school system."
The start of another political season is moving toward a late-summer date, August 7, when the county’s Democrat and Republican parties hold their primary elections. Except for Land, who qualified as a Republican, the incumbents and challengers who qualified this week have registered as Democrats.
In Panola County, most county races are traditionally decided in the Democratic primary.
Independents who plan to run for a county seat or office must sign qualifying papers and also turn in a petition, gathering 50 signatures from qualified voters for a county-wide office or 15 signatures from qualified voters for a district office, such as a supervisor.
The deadline for qualifying is March 1.
For information about qualifying for office or questions about voting, contact the Panola County Circuit Clerk’s office at 563-6210 in Batesville or 487-2073 in Sardis.