Elections from 11-4-11

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Decisions aplenty on Tuesday ballot

By Billy Davis and David Howell
The ballot Panola County voters will see next week is lengthy:  seven competitive statewide races, and regional races for public service commissioner and transportation commissioner.

There are closely-watched races for a Mississippi Senate seat and a House of Representatives seat.

In local races, there are competitive races for supervisor, sheriff, circuit clerk, chancery clerk, tax collector/assessor, and justice court judge.

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At the bottom of the ballot, voters will also be asked to vote on three initiatives.

Circuit Clerk Joe Reid reminds voters that courthouses in Batesville and Sardis will be open until noon Saturday, the deadline for casting an absentee ballot.

Reid, 76, has served five terms as circuit clerk according to Janice Dodd, who has worked for Reid since he took office in 1992.

Reid’s decision to not seek re-election set up a competitive race for the open seat. In the Tuesday election, Democrat Melissa Meek-Phelps, Republican Karen Waldo Brown and independent candidate George Williford are competing for the only open seat in Panola County government.

Other countywide incumbents facing opposition include Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock, who faces Democrat challenger Michell Putman. He drew a Democrat opponent after switching to the Independent Party.

Democrat David Garner, the longtime tax assessor/collector, is opposed by Republican Calvin Land, a former county supervisor.

Sheriff Otis Griffin, a Democrat, will face independent candidate Dennis Darby in a rematch to their 2010 election.

In other county races, District 1 Justice Court Judge Mike Wilson faces independent candidate Butch Still. Wilson is running as a Democrat. District 2 Supervisor Vernice Avant, a Democrat, will face Republican challenger Bubba Terrell.

In the District 3 supervisor’s race, Democratic candidate John Thomas will face independent candidate Boyce Crowell.

In District 4’s supervisor race, Democratic incumbent Kelly Morris is opposed by three independent candidates, Wade Meek, James Perkins and Michael Simon, as well as Republican Phil Herron.

In District 5, Democratic candidate Cole Flint faces independent challenger Chris Brocato.

There are also contested races for a House seat and Senate seat in Panola County. In the District 10 House seat, Republican candidate Nolan Mettetal will face Democratic candidate Gregg Hodges. In the District 10 Senate seat, Democratic candidate Steve Hale will face Republican candidate Vann Branch.

Mettetal surrendered the District 10 Senate seat to seek the House seat, which became competitive when a second local politician, Rep. Warner McBride, decided not to seek re-election.

Statewide Races

There are also contested statewide races for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Agriculture Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner, Northern District Transportation Commissioner and Northern District Public Service Commissioner.

Among those candidates, state treasurer candidate Connie Moran was the only candidate to contact The Panolian about her candidacy.

Moran, a Democrat, said she plans to “maintain the integrity” of the PERS retirement system, use the office to expand economic development, and create more awareness of Mississippi’s college tuition plan.

Moran is currently the mayor of Ocean Springs, where she said she has cut the budget and reduced millage.

The Republican candidate for state treasurer is Lynn Fitch of Madison. Fitch, an attorney, is serving as executive director the Mississippi State Personnel Board.

Voters will also face three ballot initiatives: 26, 27 and 31.

Initiative 26 is the personhood initiative.  It reads: “Should the term ‘person’ be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof?”

Those in favor say it would take a stand against abortion and protect human life. Those against say it is too extreme and would have sweeping consequences.

Initiative 27 deals with Voter ID.  If passed it would require voters to present a government issued ID at the polls.

Those in favor say it will prevent voter fraud. Those against, worry it would deter voters.

Initiative 31 deals with eminent domain.  It aims to prevent the government from using eminent domain to seize private property, and then transfer that property to other persons.

Those against 31 say it would hinder development and growth.  Those in support say it will stop eminent domain abuse.