Candidates waiting until last days to sign up

Published 7:53 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Panola County voters will have a clear picture of what ballots will look like for the August primaries and some understanding of the November general election matchups after the qualifying period for candidates ends Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Circuit Clerk Melissa Meek-Phelps said Tuesday her office had a flurry of candidate activity in the past week and people were picking up necessary paperwork for a range of county offices. Potential candidates have until the close of the business day to return their papers, along with signatures of registered voters if running outside the main parties label.

As of noon on Tuesday, the following names were on the sign-up sheets on the counters of the Circuit Clerk’s offices in Sardis and Batesville.

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Sheriff: John Lantern (D), Greg Draper (D), and Dennis Darby (I). Incumbent Sheriff Shane Phelps was expected to officially enter the race late Tuesday or Wednesday. He has not indicated whether he will run in the Democratic Primary or qualify as Independent.

Tax Assessor/Collector: O’dell Draper, Jr., (D), Bill Harmon (D), and David Garner (I). Draper beat longtime Assessor/Collector Garner four years ago for the office.

Chancery Clerk: Justin Pope (D), Katie Ragon (I), John David Bailey (I), and Jamie Ross (I). Ragon is the incumbent, having been appointed by the Board of Supervisors to fill the remaining term of Jim Pitcock, who retired last summer.

Circuit Clerk: Holly Roberson (I). Incumbent Meek-Phelps said Tuesday she will be seeking re-election and was still contemplating whether to run in a primary. Another candidate, Sardis Vice-Mayor Michael Price, also said he was waiting until Wednesday to qualify for the office. He also is debating whether to enter the Democratic primary or run Independent.

Supervisor Dist. 1: James Birge (D), Fred Ira Butts (D), and Kaleb Foshee (I). Birge is the most senior member of the Board of Supervisors and serves as Vice President.

Supervisor Dist. 2: Earl Burdette (D) is the incumbent and has drawn no challenger.

Supervisor Dist. 3: Lindsey Sanford, Jr., (I), John McCollum (R) , and Ken Williams (R). Current Supervisor John Thomas has said he is running for re-election but had not signed up Tuesday.

Supervisor Dist. 4: Chad Weaver (I) and Charles Roach (I). Weaver is the incumbent in the district, a seat he won four years ago after the retirement of Donald Phelps.

Supervisor Dist. 5: Ted Stewart (D) and Cole Flint (I). Flint is the incumbent and has served three terms as the President of the board.

County Attorney: Gaines Baker (D) is the current office holder and is not opposed.

Constable Dist. 1: Faye Pettis (D) and Coda Medlin (I). Pettis is the incumbent and has held the post two terms.

Constable Dist. 2: Maurice Market (D), Jamie Snider (I), and Russell Woods (I). Market ran for the seat four years ago and was beaten by Dennis Darby, who is running for sheriff.

Coroner: Troy Smith (I) and Christopher Gulledge, Jr., (I). Longtime coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge recently announced her retirement and is campaigning for her son to take over the office.

Justice Court Judges Mike Wilson (D) and Michael Darby (I) are also seeking re-election in Districts 1 and 2 respectively. Neither had drawn an opponent as of Tuesday noon.

The Panolian’s website will have an updated list of all candidates, county and state, at 6 p.m. Wednesday following the close of the qualifying period.

Primary elections for the Democrats and Republicans will be Aug. 8 and the general election will be Nov. 7.

Candidates must win a majority of the votes in a party primary to advance to the general, or if no candidate wins 50 percent plus one vote, there will be a runoff election on Aug. 29.

In the general election there are no runoffs for county offices, except for Election Commission and School Board of Trustees races.

Statewide races can have general election runoffs.