Runoff Election

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 19, 2010

For candidates, clock winds down to court run-off votes

By Billy Davis

Otis Griffin and Dennis Darby, after finishing the General Election with 174 votes separating them, are heading into their final weekend of politicking.

Darby said more than 50 volunteers are knocking on doors for his campaign, encouraging registered voters to cast a ballot for him in the Nov. 23 runoff. Many of those voters failed to vote on Nov. 2, he said.

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“It was not a good turnout. Much too low,” said Darby, who trailed Griffin in the vote tally.

Election returns showed 12,552 votes were cast on a ballot that included competitive races for circuit court judge, state appeals court, a school board seat, and a congressional race.

The countywide run-off ballot will be much slimmer Tuesday, offering a run-off election for circuit court judge. Gerald Chatham Sr. and Stan Little, both of Hernando, are seeking that seat.

A runoff for justice court judge will also be on the ballot in north Panola County. Mike Wilson and Hal Johnson are competing for that county seat, formerly held by longtime judge James Appleton.  

Griffin, who is presently serving as interim sheriff, said he believed the rain that fell Nov. 2 failed to deter voters who were determined to cast a ballot. But he is also urging voters to return next Tuesday.

“I’m getting people motivated to get back to the polls,” Griffin said. “They have a right to vote and should exercise that right.”  

Griffin said he plans to speak at area churches Sunday, describing plans to beef up patrols in troublesome areas and to bring federal inmates to the county jail, which will help pay for the jail addition.

Griffin also said he plans to mention that Darby has stated his intentions to keep the current chief deputy and jail administrator if elected. Darby’s decision to do so suggests Griffin made good decisions in those areas, according to the interim sheriff.  

“I congratulate my opponent,” said Griffin. “It’s nice to see he will latch on to what I already have in place.”

Griffin chose Andy Estridge as chief deputy after the death of Hugh “Shot” Bright. Estridge, when he moved to chief deputy, was working drug interdiction for the sheriff’s department.

Bobby Meek, who is Bright’s nephew by marriage, was serving as jail administrator at the time of his death and remained in that position.  

Darby, in an ad in The Panolian, has said he plans to keep Estridge and Meek in those positions.

On the last weekend before the runoff, Darby said he plans to visit businesses and also make an appearance at the Holiday Open House, scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Batesville.

“Something good has already come out of this,” said Darby. “I think people have become more interested in what is happening in their government at the local level.”

The winner of the sheriff’s election will complete Bright’s term, which ends in 2011.