By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Death vacated another state Senate seat the same day Gov. Phil Bryant scheduled a special election to fill the vacancy left by last week’s death of Sen. Bennie Turner, D-West Point.
Sen. Alice Harden, D-Jackson, died Thursday after a lengthy illness.
Bryant will schedule another special election to fill Harden’s post.
On Thursday, he announced a special election for Jan. 15 to fill Turner’s District 16 post, which covers Clay and portions of Lowndes, Noxubee and Oktibbeha counties.
“Holding the special election in January means the citizens of these four counties will be properly represented as soon as possible in the next legislative session,” Bryant said in a news release. “This legislative session will tackle many important issues, and it is critical District 16 be represented in those decisions.”
Entering the second year of a four-year term, the 174-member Legislature is being hit by an unusually high number of vacancies.
William “Bill” Kinkade of Byhalia won a special election to fill a House District 52 slot opened this summer by the resignation of Tommy Woods, R-Byhalia. The district consists of portions of DeSoto and Marshall counties.
Woods resigned for health reasons while earlier this year Merle Flowers, R-Southaven, resigned from the Senate, citing the need to spend more time with his family. Olive Branch optometrist David Parker will succeed Flowers.
Bryant also called a Jan. 8 special election to fill the post left vacant by the resignation of Kevin McGee, R-Brandon, who stepped down as part of an agreement with the state Ethics Commission after a business he owned did work for the state.
Harden, 64, had been in the Senate since 1988. She missed much of the 2012 session because of illness.
“As a former teacher, Sen. Harden brought her passion for improving Mississippi’s schools and universities to the state Senate,” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the upper chamber. “She fought diligently for all Mississippi children to have an opportunity to receive a good education. Her dedication to public service will be missed.”
There are no party primaries in legislative special elections. If no candidate receives a majority, the two top vote-getters advance to a runoff.