Local races include school board, judge

Published 4:13 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Staff Report

When votes go to the polls for the General Election on Tuesday the two most contested races in Panola County will be for Circuit Court Judge District 17 Place 2, and for South Panola Schools, District 1 seat on the Board of Trustees.

In the Circuit Court judge race, incumbent Jimmy McClure will try to hold off Bob Morris, an assistant in the District Attorney’s office. Both have campaigned heavily in Panola County.

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I am the only candidate with judicial experience serving the last 11 years as your Circuit Judge having been elected to three terms.,” McClure said. “I volunteer to preside over an addiction recovery program for addicts with felony charges for them to receive treatment instead of jail time. Our drug court program has a 65 percent graduation success rate, the highest in the state.”

Morris said, “I believe that I can best serve the 17th Judicial District as a judge as I have a diverse education and legal background. I have experience with trial work in numerous jurisdictions both as a civil attorney and a prosecuting attorney.

“I firmly believe that my training and experience provide me with the right tools and demeanor to hear and decide cases in a fair, impartial and just manner,” he said.

In the Board of Trustee race, incumbent Jerry Cooley, local mortician, is facing challenger Mary Elizabeth “Lisbeth” Bowlin, a pharmacist at Walgreens with children who attend South Panola schools.

“Being a school board member, we work together as a team. No one member has power. We set policy, hire a superintendent, keep the finances in line and bills paid,” Cooley said. “I work together with my colleagues and I enjoy it. I think every child has a right to a good education. We are trying to be the best school we can have in Panola County.

Bowlin said, “I want South Panola to be the best school district in the state of Mississippi – our students deserve to have all the opportunities that are afforded to other 6A schools – opportunities that they do not currently have, both academics and extracurricular.”

“I am concerned about the perceived retention of our teachers.  We have started the last two school years that I know of, maybe more, still trying to fill teacher positions across the schools in our district.  I want South Panola to be a destination of choice for teachers, not a just a stepping stone to another district – we need to make sure our district is a great place to work,” she said.

Running unopposed this year are: Circuit Court Judge Smith Murphey (District 17-Place 1) and Circuit Court Judge Gerald Chatham, Sr., (District 17-Place 4). Also unopposed for Chancery Court , District 3-2, Place 2 is Judge Vicki Daniels and Chancery Court, District 3-2, Place 3 is Judge Mitchell Lundy, Jr.

For Court of Appeals District 1, Position 2, Judge Donna Barnes is unopposed. In District 2, Position 1 there are three candidates: Ceola James, Eric Charles Hawkins, and Deborah McDonald.

In national races, voters will cast ballots in two U.S. Senate races – one a regular election and the other a special election to fill the retired Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat. In the regular Senate race, incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker, R, is challenged by David Baria, D; Danny Bedwell, Libertarian; and Shawn O’Hara, Reform Party.

In the special Senate race, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is facing challenges from Democrat Mike Espy, Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel, and Democrat Tobey Bartee. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, there will be a runoff Nov. 20 between the top two finishers.

In the 2nd Congressional District for U.S. House of Representatives, longtime Democrat Bennie Thompson is unopposed.