Chancery Clerk

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 11, 2011

Chancery clerk edges past rookie Dem challenger

By Billy Davis and David Howell

Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock narrowly beat back a challenge from political newcomer Michell Putman on Tuesday, edging past his challenger by 230 votes of 13,054 votes that were cast.

The election Tuesday also returned Tax Assessor/Collector David Garner to his position and put a new circuit clerk, Melissa Meek-Phelps, in office.

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Four county supervisors seats, a justice court post, and a South Panola school board seat were all up for grabs, too.  

Pitcock, after winning two terms as a Democrat, had qualified as an Independent candidate last spring. That decision set up an unknown in the Democratic-leaning county.
The unknown became known Tuesday.

Asked about his narrow win, Pitcock encouraged Panola voters to study the political platform of the American Independent Party on its Web site.

“The platform lines up with my personal and religious beliefs,” Pitcock said.

In other countywide races, Democrat Melissa Meek-Phelps cruised to an easy victory after defeating an independent and Republican to win her first term as circuit clerk.

Phelps, 35, will be the first new circuit clerk in Panola County since 1992, when longtime incumbent Joe Reid won his first term.

Phelps received 8,459 votes Tuesday. She was opposed by independent George Williford, who received 2,443 votes, and Republican Karen Waldo Brown, who received 2,258.

Reid, 76, chose not to seek re-election, setting up a competition for the office.

Incumbent Democratic Tax?Assessor/Collector David Garner easily won another term, receiving 9,891 votes over Republican Calvin Land’s 3,273 votes.

Looking at supervisor’s races, District 2 Supervisor Vernice Avant won, defeating Bubba Terrell 1,398 votes to 603 votes.

In District 3, political newcomer John Thomas defeated Boyce Crowell 1,837 to 1,124.

In District 4, incumbent Kelly Morris led a five-way ticket to win his second term. Morris had 1,354 votes followed by Phil Herron with 492 votes, James Perkins with 488 votes, Wade Meek with 454 votes, and Mike Simon with 171 votes.

Morris had fielded criticism from some after he vocally opposed a gravel mining operation in the Eureka community — and had his own property drilled by the company.

Voters in District 4 are known for routinely turning out their supervisor after even one term but Morris did more than survive Tuesday — his vote tally was nearly as much as the second, third and fourth-place candidates who trailed him.     

In District 5, political newcomer Cole Flint easily won over Chris Brocato 2,006 to 632.

Flint, who is 26, will easily be the youngest public official in Panola County government when elected officials are sworn into office in January.  

Cole defeated incumbent Bubba Waldrup in the Democratic Primary in August.

Incumbent District 1 Justice Court Judge Mike Wilson won his first full term in office after receiving 2,585 votes. Independent challenger Butch Still received 1,130 votes.

Wilson had won a special election last November to complete the unexpired term of James Appleton.

In the school board race, Willie “Buddy” Gray defeated Odell Draper Jr. 1,166 to 591 to win the seat.
Gray’s wife is not seeking re-election, which set up the contest.

At press time Thursday staff members in the circuit clerk’s office were preparing precinct breakdowns of Tuesday’s election results.

Precinct breakdowns will be published in the Tuesday, November 15 issue of The Panolian.