Candidates file in 3 Mississippi special elections

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Voters in north Mississippi will choose Tuesday from seven candidates in a special election for transportation commission.

Elsewhere, voters in portions of Lee and Pontotoc counties will choose from candidates for the state Senate seat left open with the election of new U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo. The same will be true in Harrison County where voters will select a successor for Steven Palazzo of Biloxi, who was a member of the Mississippi House when he was elected to Congress.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Runoffs, if necessary, will be Feb. 1. The winners will fill the final year of four-year terms.

Six people signed up to run for Nunnelee’s former state Senate seat. Eight qualified to run for Palazzo’s former state House seat.

The special election for transportation commission comes after the death of Commissioner Bill Minor on Nov. 1 while attending a trade conference in Biloxi.

The three-member commission oversees budgets and projects for highways, railroads, airports and other transportation services across the state.

The seven candidates for transportation commissioner:

— John Caldwell, 49, of Nesbit, is transportation director for the DeSoto County School District. He was a DeSoto County supervisor from 1996 to 2000 and was defeated by Bill Minor in the 2003 commissioner’s race. Caldwell was on active-duty military service during several months of the 2003 campaign. He said he wants to get the Department of Transportation “re-energized and return to working for the people.”

— Dennis Grisham, 66, of Dumas, is in his seventh term as Tippah County supervisor and is past owner of Grisham Asphalt and Paving Co., with plants in New Albany and Ripley. He said to most citizens transportation means highways — roads to and from work, highways that attract new and expanded industry, and that brings more jobs. He said he’ll attend to those needs.

— Joey Hood, 35, of Marietta, has worked for the Department of Transportation for 17 years, most recently as Bill Minor’s top assistant. He said a well-balanced transportation system to the state’s growth. He said state budgets are tight, and he wants to stretch dollars for highway construction and maintenance.

— Larry Lee, 58, of Grenada, owns an auto trucks parts business in Grenada. He said he wants to improve the business practices of the department and restore people’s trust in the agency.

— Warner McBride, 54, a state representative from Courtland and chairman of the House Transportation Committee and worked most of his adult life in his family’s civil engineering firm, which closed in recent years. He said that as a lawmaker, he helped fund roads to a Toyota plant that’s scheduled to open next year in north Mississippi.

— Ray Minor, 66, of Holly Springs, has he worked with his late brother in their family’s three hardware stores and as a contractor for plumbing, electrical and heating services. Minor said he doesn’t have a background in transportation or road building, but he knows highways are important for development. He said if he’s elected, he wants to help rural residents by putting more state money into local roads.

— Mike Tagert, 40, of Starkville, is president of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Council. He said highways are important and bring jobs to Mississippi, but ports along the rivers and the Gulf Coast should also be developed.

Candidates in Tuesday’s special elections
The Associated Press

Here’s are the candidates in three Mississippi special elections that will be held Tuesday. Runoffs, if needed, are Feb. 1:

***

Northern District transportation commissioner:

John M. Caldwell Sr. of Nesbit, transportation director for the DeSoto County School District.

Dennis C. Grisham of Dumas, seven-term Tippah County supervisor and past owner of Grisham Asphalt and Paving Co., with plants in New Albany and Ripley.

Joey Hood of Marietta, state Department of Transportation employee since 1994, including work as special projects officer for the Northern District.

Larry Lee of Grenada, businessman.

Warner McBride of Courtland, state representative, worked in his family’s civil-engineering firm, which is now closed.

Ray Minor of Holly Springs, electrical and plumbing contractor, co-owner of hardware stores.

Mike Tagert of Starkville, president of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Council.

***

Senate District 6 — Parts of Lee and Pontotoc counties:

Melony Armstrong of Tupelo

Mike Bryan of Tupelo

Nancy Adams Collins of Tupelo

Jonny Davis of Tupelo

Stacy D. Scott of Sherman

Doug Wright of Saltillo

***

House District 116 — Part of Harrison County.

Jim Atchison of Biloxi

Travis Burke of D’Iberville

Jamie Creel of Biloxi

Todd Echelberry of D’Iberville

Casey Eure of Biloxi

Jessamyn Hogue of Biloxi

Quentin Lyles of D’Iberville

Chuck Stein of Biloxi