By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press
JACKSON — Democrats had a strong showing in Mississippi mayoral races Tuesday, capturing an open seat in Tupelo and unseating a Republican in Meridian.
Mayor-elect Jason Shelton will be the first Democrat to lead Tupelo government in about 30 years. In Meridian, insurance agent Percy Bland, a Democrat, defeated one-term Republican Mayor Cheri Barry in a rematch of the 2009 election.
Democratic incumbents were re-elected in Ocean Springs, Oxford and Starkville. New mayors were chosen in Canton, Clarksdale, Jackson, Holly Springs, Moss Point, and Vicksburg, with the office moving from one Democrat to another.
State Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole said Wednesday that the Republican losses were personal defeats for Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and other GOP leaders who had campaigned for local candidates.
“Our success was not limited to a single region of the state,” Cole said in a news release. “This is an example of what teamwork can do. We are so proud of the hundreds of local Democratic activists who put their hearts and souls into these campaigns.”
State Republican Party chairman Joe Nosef had said in a mass email Sunday that some people were saying party affiliation didn’t matter in mayoral races.
“The truth is that it is more important than ever to elect Republicans at the local level,” Nosef wrote. “This is the case not only because these officials have important jobs and make significant decisions, but also because many times these officials move on to higher office and impact the political process for years to come.”
A Republican unseated Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, who used to be in the GOP but ran this year as an independent.
Republicans incumbents were re-elected in Biloxi, Hernando and Madison. New mayors were chosen in Clinton, Gulfport and Olive Branch, with the office moving from one Republican to another.
Mayoral contests in Greenwood and Hattiesburg were tightly contested, with officials still counting votes Wednesday evening.
Mayors and municipal board members serve four-year terms that begin July 1.
In an election-night interview on WAPT-TV, Jackson Mayor-elect Chokwe Lumumba said he wants people to work with him to improve the capital city.
“We’re for Jackson, but we’re also for Mississippi,” Lumumba said. “We’re not in an island. We’re in a society. And so you’ve got to work with all the people in the society.”
Lumumba is an attorney and has served the past four years on the City Council. After defeating three-term Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. in the Democratic primary and businessman Jonathan Lee in the Democratic primary runoff, Lumumba cruised past three low-budget independent candidates on Tuesday.
Lumumba, who had been an attorney for the late rapper Tupac Shakur, also received a celebrity endorsement Tuesday. His campaign posted a brief video message online from hip-hop artist Ludacris, who said: “I need you to vote for Chokwe Lumumba. We’ve got to move forward in Jackson, Miss., so the only way to do that — if you vote for my man.”
A glance at Mississippi mayors elected Tuesday
The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Most Mississippi cities held municipal elections Tuesday. Here’s a glance at some of the mayors who take office July 1, along with a note about whether they’re starting a first or subsequent term:
Biloxi: Republican A.J. Holloway, sixth term.
Brandon: Republican Butch Lee, first full term. The former alderman was appointed mayor when the former mayor stepped down in late March.
Brookhaven: Republican Joe Cox, first term.
Canton: Democrat Arnel Bolden, first term.
Clarksdale: Democrat Bill Luckett, first term.
Clinton: Republican Phil Fisher, first term.
Columbus: Democrat Robert Smith, second term.
D’Iberville: Republican Rusty Quave, sixth term.
Gautier: Republican Gordon Gollott, first term.
Gulfport: Republican former state Sen. Billy Hewes, first term.
Hernando: Republican Chip Johnson, third term.
Holly Springs: Democratic state Rep. Kelvin Buck, first term.
Jackson: Democrat Chokwe Lumumba, first term.
Laurel: Democrat Johnny Magee, first term.
Long Beach: Republican Billy Skellie, third term.
Madison: Republican Mary Hawkins Butler, ninth term.
Meridian: Democrat Percy Bland, first term.
Moss Point: Democratic state Rep. Billy Broomfield, first term.
Ocean Springs: Democrat Connie Moran, third term.
Olive Branch: Republican Scott Phillips, first term.
Oxford: Democrat George “Pat” Patterson, second term.
Pascagoula: Republican Jim Blevins, first term.
Pass Christian: Republican Leo “Chipper” McDermott, third term.
Pearl: Republican Brad Rogers, second term.
Southaven: Republican Darren Musselwhite, first term.
Starkville: Democrat Parker Wiseman, second term.
Tupelo: Democrat Jason Shelton, first term.
West Point: Democrat Harmon A. “Robbie” Robinson, first term.
Vicksburg: Democratic state Rep. George Flaggs, first term.