City candidates face March 3 deadline

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By Floyd Ingram

Chickasaw Journal

CHICKASAW COUNTY – Candidates have filed for all city posts in Houston with one alderman spot in Okolona still lacking a qualifying candidate.

The qualifying deadline for municipal elections is 5 p.m., Friday, March 3, with all candidates required to file the appropriate paperwork at their respective city hall.

Residents from Okolona and Houston have cast their hat in the ring, filled up the ballot and are now seeking votes for mayor, alderman and town marshal. Only the Ward 6 Alderman slot in Okolona does not have a formal candidate. The post is currently held by Anthony Floyd.

Candidates who declare a political party are required to pay a $10 application fee. Candidates who run as independents, do not pay a fee but must submit a petition with 50 signatures of qualified electors.

To qualify for municipal office, a candidate must be a registered voter of the municipality and ward they represent. Candidates may not have been convicted of a federal crime or certain Mississippi crimes defined as punishable by incarceration in a state penitentiary unless they have received a full pardon. They also may not be convicted of a crime in another state that is considered a felony under Mississippi law.

Candidates cannot have been legally declared mentally incompetent.

Houston, Houlka, Okolona and Woodland each have municipal elections this spring.

Candidates who have qualified in Okolona, their position, political party, name and if they are an incumbent (i) are:

• Ward 1 Alderman – Democrats Kenneth McVey (i) and Jessie Carouthers.

• Ward 2 Alderman – Democrat Bennett Moore (i).

• Ward 3 Alderman – Democrats Rubie Jenkins, Kelvin Stanfield and Jim Gates.

• Ward 4 Alderman – Democrats Imogene Armstrong and Regina Pickens (i).

• Ward 5 Alderman – Democrat Mary L. Gates (i).

• Ward 6 Alderman – none.

• Mayor – Democrats Louise Floyd Cole (i), Sherman R. Carouthers and Nathaniel Cunningham.

• City Marshal – Democrats Willie Moore (i), William Randle and former police chief Tommy Ivy.

Candidates who have qualified in Houston, their position, political party, name and if they are an incumbent (i) are:

• District 1 Alderman – Republican Kelly Atkinson.

• District 2 Alderman – Democrat Shenia K. Jones (i).

• District 3 Alderman – Republican Frank Thomas (i).

• District 4 Alderman – Democrat Willie Mae Gates McKinney (i).

• Alderman at Large – Democrat Barry Springer (i).

• Mayor – Democrat Stacey W. Parker (i).

• City Marshal – Democrat Billy Voyles (i).

Houlka elects city aldermen at large with the five candidates getting the top number of votes being named alderman. As of Friday no candidates have qualified in Houlka for mayor or alderman.

No candidate had qualified for Woodland aldermen or mayor as of Friday.

Municipal primary elections for differing political parties will be Tuesday, May 2, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at regular city polling precincts. Candidates must earn 50 percent of the vote, plus one vote, to be declared the winner of a primary election.

A runoff election among like political candidates – if needed – would be held May 16.

The general election – if needed – will be held June 6 and will pit party candidates for an overall winner to claim the post.

Primary and party elections have to be canvassed or certified by each respective party. The general election will be canvassed or certified by the board of aldermen of each municipality. The expense of all city elections is paid by the city.

Paychecks for aldermen in Chickasaw County’s four municipalities vary based on population and tax base.

Aldermen, city marshal and mayors in all four communities are also allowed a budgeted travel and mileage expense that must be approved by the city.

Okolona pays its mayor and city marshal the best, but aldermen are paid less than cities of similar size. Okolona’s mayor is paid $33,000 a year or $2,750 a month. The city marshal of Okolona is paid $43,555 a year or $3,629.58 a month. Okolona aldermen are paid $500 a month or $6,000 a year.

Okolona aldermen recently voted themselves a $2,400 pay raise. Okolona’s population was listed at 2,692 in the 2010 census.

Houston, with a 2010 population of 3,623, pays its mayor $27,500 annually or $2,291.67 a month. Houston’s city marshal is paid $38,522 a year or $3,210.17 a month. Aldermen are paid $600 a month or $7,200 annually.

Houlka pays its mayor $5,594 a year or $466.17 a month with aldermen making $175 a month or $2,100 a year. New Houlka’s population was 626 in the last census. The city police chief is appointed by the Board of Aldermen.

Woodland pays its mayor $125 a month or $1,500 a year. Woodland aldermen are paid $100 a month or $1,200 a year. City workers in Woodland are appointed by the Board of Aldermen.

The law requiring candidates to be a registered voter of the district they represent has presented legal concerns with enforcement and qualification requirements.

The original list of crimes deemed to be disenfranchising or denying someone of their right to be a registered voter has been updated by official opinions from the Attorney General’s office through the years to coincide with modern criminal law.

The crimes on the list via the AG opinion are arson, armed robbery, bigamy, bribery, embezzlement, extortion, felony bad check (writing three bad check), felony shoplifting, forgery, larceny, murder, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, rape, receiving stolen property, robbery, theft, timber larceny, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, statutory rape, carjacking and larceny under lease or rental agreement.

Questions or concerns about voting issues, policy and procedure for any election should be directed to the Secretary of State’s office at (601) 359-1350.

Questions or concerns about candidate qualifications, ethics and conduct while in office should be directed to the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division at (601) 359-4258.

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