Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Plenty of races but few final in Dem primaries

By Billy Davis

It’s the year of up-in-the-air races.   

The eventual winner in four of five Panola supervisor races will remain undecided today following party primaries, owing to a crowd of candidates running as independents or Republicans.

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The delayed results also mean the make-up of the Board of Supervisors in 2012 will be in question until November 8, the General Election.

There are county-wide primary elections on the ballot, too, for sheriff, tax assessor/collector, and circuit clerk.

Like the supervisor races, races for sheriff, tax collector, circuit clerk and chancery clerk will also move to the November 8 ballot.

Some Panola voters will also see a Democratic race for District 1 justice court judge and for District 1 constable. Both of those races will be decided today.

Only one supervisor’s race, in District 1, may be decided at the polls today. Two-term Supervisor James Birge is facing a primary challenge from fellow Democrats David Arnold and Jesse Lyons.

That race could be undecided today, too, if none of the three wins a majority and forces a runoff.

Lyons, a former District 1 supervisor, failed to unseat Birge in the 2007 Democratic Primary.

In other supervisor races:

District 2 supervisor

District 2 Supervisor Vernice Avant is facing a primary challenge from Democratic candidates William Pride and Timothy Holliday.

Avant is serving the remainder of a four-year term after her late husband, Robert, passed away in August 2008.

Both Pride and Holliday challenged Mrs. Avant in a 2009 non-partisan special election, where six candidates were listed on the District 2 ballot.

Avant and Pride moved to a runoff, where she won with a 141-vote margin.

The winner of the primary will face Republican Bubba Terrell in the General Election on November 8.

District 3 supervisor

District 3 Supervisor Gary Thompson, a Democrat, faces primary challenges from Robert “BB” Lee, Donnie Shaw and John Thomas. That race will most certainly advance to a runoff, where the winning Democrat will face independent Boyce Crowell and Republican Monty Thomas in November.

Thompson, who serves as board president, is seeking a second term.

In 2007 Thompson finished second behind Mike Darby in a crowded Democratic primary, then defeated Darby in the runoff.

The District 3 seat was up for grabs in 2007 after Mack Benson, the late supervisor, did not seek re-election.

District 4 supervisor

In District 4, first-term Democratic incumbent Kelly Morris faces challenger Jarrell Mills.

Mills finished third in 2007 in the Democratic Primary when Morris upset incumbent Jerry Perkins.

The winner of the primary will face Republican Phil Herron and three independent candidates — Wade Meek, James Perkins and Michael Simon — in November.

District 5 supervisor

On the ballot in District 5, Supervisor Bubba Waldrup and Cole Flint are competing for the Democratic nomination. The winner will face independent candidate Chris Brocato in November.

Other races on the Panola County ballot are for statewide offices and for the District 10 house seat and the District 10 senate seat.

Like most of the county races, the senate and house races will ultimately be decided in November.