Booneville's municipal elections have new twists

BOONEVILLE – Roger K. Smith made history in 2005 when he was elected the city’s first Republican mayor.
As he seeks a second term, Smith gives the election another interesting twist by choosing to run as an independent.
When he gets to the general election on June 2, he will face Republican Ronald “Ron” Kirk and the winner of the Democratic primary between Rhonda Greening and Joe Eaton.
Greening, executive director of the Booneville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Eaton, who works at Caterpillar, will face off in the May 5 primary.
Smith said that in switching to independent status he has not moved from his Republican conservative beliefs.
Rather, he sees this change as a “fair option to the voters wishing to vote for him and also vote for their choice of alderman during the upcoming closed primary elections.”
Voters who wanted to vote in the Democratic primary for an alderman candidate would not be allowed to cross over to vote for Smith as mayor. By running as an independent, however, Smith’s name will be placed on the open ballot for the general election.
The city is implementing its 2005 decision to begin electing aldermen in a ward system, with an alderman elected from each of four wards, plus one elected at large.
The U.S. Justice Department must approve city ward plans – as it has done in this instance – to help assure that there is at least one ward with a majority racial minority for adequate representation in city government.
Four of the five alderman posts have four candidates, and Ward 2 – the ward with the largest minority population – has three candidates.
All of the Ward 1 alderman candidates – incumbent Alderman Mitch Barrett, Jason Michael, Wilda Pounds and Virgil Simpson – are running as Democrats and will meet in the primary.
The same is true for Ward 2 candidates W. James Chambers, Jerome E. Jones and Jeff Williams.
In Ward 3, Democratic candidates Paul Bonds, Mark McCoy and Billy Whisenant will meet in the primary, and the winning Democratic nominee will be on the general election ballot opposite Gary “Bubba” McCoy, an independent.
In Ward 4, the Democrats on the primary ballot are incumbent Alderman David Bolen, Adrian Edge, Jerry Peeks and Travis Tucker.
At-large Democratic candidates for the primary include incumbent Alderman Betty Livingston, Harold Eaton and Groves J. Shinault Sr. The winning party candidate will face Republican William McDonald in the general election.
Having voters sign up with their correct addresses has been a year-long process, but has been very successful, said City Clerk Glennice George.
There have been about 2,700 registrants, and about 2,500 voters have usually cast ballots in previous municipal elections, she said.
Two incumbent aldermen – Bobby Goddard and David West – chose to not seek re-election this year. Both, along with Alderman Betty Livingston, live in Ward 1 where incumbent Barrett is running, while Livingston is running for the at large seat.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 424-0531 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

Lena Mitchell/Daily Journal