Published 12:00 am Friday, November 11, 2011

Panolians vote ‘yes’ on 2 of 3 initiatives

By David Howell and Billy Davis

Mississippi Senate candidate Steve Hale defeated Republican Vann Branch in the race for District 10 senator Tuesday, and Senator Nolan Mettetal won a state house seat.

Hale received just over 64 percent of the votes cast in the district, which includes portions of Tate and Panola counties, according to unofficial election results.

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Hale, Senatobia’s former mayor and a former executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, polled 12,038 votes compared to Branch’s 7,087 votes. In Panola County, Hale won over Branch 8,301-4,698.

The senate seat was up for grabs after incumbent Mettetal did not seek re-election, instead deciding to run for a House seat after state Rep. Warner McBride also decided not to seek re-election.

Mettetal, a Republican from Sardis, defeated Democrat Gregg Hodges of Tallahatchie County to be District 10 representative.

Mettetal earned 60 percent of the votes in the contest, which includes portions of Panola, Lafayette and Tallahatchie counties. He garnered 5,734 votes compared to Hodges’ 3,681 votes district-wide and outpolled Hodges 4,138-2,479 in Panola County.

The three amendments for the state constitution — located at the end of the ballot — each attracted almost 13,000 voters in the county. Panola voters followed statewide trends, voting against the “personhood” amendment while favoring the voter ID amendment and eminent domain restriction amendment.

Sixty percent of Panolians voted against the personhood initiative while 39 percent voted in favor. The unofficial vote total showed 7,826 voted “no” and 5,064 voted “yes.”

The voter ID initiative found more favor with Panola voters. Fifty-nine percent of 7,715 voted “yes” while 40 percent, 5,248 voters, voted “no.”

Seventy-two percent of Panola voters, a total of 9,499, cast a “yes” vote for the eminent domain initiative. Twenty-seven percent or 3,516 voted “no.”