Democrat Executive Committee hears from three candidates 10/27/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Democrat Executive Committee hears from three candidates

By Rupert Howell
Three candidates met with Panola’s Democratic Executive members during the open portion of their meeting, the last before next Tuesday’s general election, last Thursday at the Sardis Courthouse.
Committee Chairman Lourine Robinson also discussed issues affecting the recent and upcoming election following the candidates’ presentations. Several members met in a closed session prior to unlocking doors and opening the meeting to others.
District 9 Mississippi Representative candidate Cristen Hemmins made her plea before the committee with an emphasis on education funding and criticizing her Republican incumbent opponent of switching parties,”two days after being elected as a Democrat,” and stating that Panola County, “got shafted,” by the legislature in recent redistricting by having local representation weakened.
Incumbent District Two Supervisor Vernice Avant talked of tourism and its potential effect on the county and reflected information she had learned earlier in the day at Panola Partnership’s Fall Forum.
Avant also addressed roadside litter stating, “We can help just by picking up trash on our own streets. We all need to help keep our county clean.”
Sheriff nominee Mark Whitten challenged recent figures published by the incumbent sheriff’s campaign, stating numbers of arrests reported, “. . . was not possible in four years.”
Citing his years of experience, Whitten also related that a recently published report of arrests made during a multiple agency investigation began when he signed an inter-local agreement with federal agencies while he was Task Force Commander at the Sheriff’s Department.
Following the candidates’ time, Chairman Robinson briefly addressed recent issues affecting the party. She stated the poll books (electronic devices used to assure names and locations of voters at the polls are correct) that were approved by election commissioners and supervisors, would be used after proper training and enough obtained that each party could have their own at each precinct.
“We were never against using them,” Robinson stated, adding that the concerns were the number available and proper training.
She said the Democratic Committee decided not to sign a contract with Panola County’s election Commissioners and Circuit Clerk to hold the recent primary elections.
Concerning not releasing and publishing  names of poll workers, Robinson accused Circuit Clerk Melissa Meek, a Democrat, of sending the list to the Republican party, who she indicated pirated the names.
“They started calling poll workers in May instead of waiting until August,” she stated.
Robinson also mentioned the precinct recently reopened for Crowder in District Two, stating that, “after years and years to get their precinct . . . they send somebody else (not Crowder area poll workers) to work there  . . . people from all over the county.”
 Robinson noted precincts in District Four had few or no black poll workers.
Committee members questioned why District Four Election Commissioner Wanda Carmichael could have signs in front of her business in support of candidates.
While explaining who Democrat committee members could support, Robinson stated that members could be voted from the committee if they actively supported Republican candidates or the Republican party.
“We are Democrats. . . It’s in our constitution,” she stated.

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