Election Ballots

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Independents, Republicans liven up ballot

Voting help
Panola circuit clerk:
563-6210, 487-2073
Miss. Secretary of State:

Watch online tonight at www.panolian.com  for unofficial election results.

By Billy Davis

Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock informed supervisors Monday he plans to attend a mandatory workshop Nov. 16 and 17 for Mississippi chancery clerks.

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Pitcock and others in Panola County government make similar announcements — to attend training, seminars and workshops — all the time. But it was different Monday, because today is Election Day.

“Depending on the election, I need to attend this seminar,” Pitcock joked, producing chuckles in the boardroom for stating the obvious.

In Panola County government, every countywide office — sheriff, chancery clerk, circuit clerk, and tax collector/assessor — is up for grabs with traditional Democrats and a hodgepodge of Republican and independent candidates.


Democrat Sheriff Otis Griffin and independent candidate Dennis Darby are returning for a rematch after Griffin won a special election in 2010. Griffin won that election by 514 votes of 12,919 that were cast.
Darby, a former state trooper, is expected to return today with a better-organized political campaign.
Griffin, meanwhile, made history as Panola County’s first black sheriff. His re-election can expect groundswell support from the black community to help return him to public office.

Griffin defeated Jimmy McCloud, a Batesville Police captain, in August to win the Democratic nomination.  

Chancery clerk

Pitcock is facing Democratic candidate Michell Putman today as he seeks a second term in office.
Pitcock switched from Democrat to the Independent Party during his most current term, which set up an unknown outcome today with a non-Democrat incumbent seeking re-election.

Pitcock said he hopes people will vote “according to the character and qualifications of the candidates, and not anything else,” an obvious reference to his new party label.

Putman has said she will not criticize Pitcock’s party switch but added that she would remain a loyal Democrat if elected.

Circuit clerk

Circuit Clerk Joe Reid is not seeking re-election this year, setting up a competitive race for an open seat.
Melissa Meek-Phelps defeated Craig Sheley and Willie Odom in the Democratic Primary, moving her to today’s General Election.

She faces Republican Karen Waldo-Brown and independent candidate George Williford today.

Tax assessor/collector

David Garner handily defeated Brad Baker in the Democratic Primary to advance to the General Election. He faces Republican Calvin Land, the former county supervisor, in today’s election.

Supervisor races

On the Board of Supervisors, four of five seats will be decided today. The August primaries turned out incumbents in District 3 and District 5, setting up competitive races where the incumbent is no longer a factor.

In District 3, the battle of the businessmen unfolds today. Farmer and businessman Jon Thomas defeated Gary Thompson to win the Democratic nomination, which set up today’s match-up with fellow businessman Boyce “Crow” Crowell.

In the District 5 race, Cole Flint defeated two-termer Bubba Waldrup in the Democratic Primary — perhaps the biggest upset in the primaries. That set up Flint’s face-off with Chris Brocato today.

The third supervisor race is in District 2, where Supervisor Vernice Avant won over William Pride in the Democratic Primary — first in the primary election then in a courtroom.

On the ballot today, Avant is facing Republican candidate Bubba Terrell in the heavily black district, so she is expected to cruise to a new term.

In District 4, first-term Supervisor Kelly Morris is facing a first-ever challenge of three independent candidates and a Republican, which is sure to split the votes at Eureka, Cole’s Point and other precincts.

Independent candidates are Wade Meek, James Perkins and Mike Simon. The Republican is Phil Herron.

Morris carried four of five precincts in August to defeat fellow Democrat Jarrell Mills.
Justice court judge

Some voters in Panola County will cast a ballot in a justice court judge’s race today.

District 1 Judge Mike Wilson is seeking a first full term after winning special election last December. He is facing independent candidate Butch Still.

Wilson is completing the four-year term of longtime judge James Appleton.

School board
Odell Draper Jr. and Willie E. “Buddy” Gray are seeking the District 4 seat on the South Panola School Board of Trustees.

Gray’s wife, Sarah Dell Gray, is stepping down and created the current race for the seat.

The electronic ballot today will also be crowded with statewide and regional candidates, elections for state representative and state senator, and three voter initiatives — the Personhood Amendment, voter ID, and eminent domain.