By Emily Le Coz
TUPELO – Voters in two wards will cast the deciding ballots in City Council runoffs scheduled May 19.
No one earned enough votes in Tuesday’s Ward 5 Republican primary or Ward 7 Democratic primary to cinch a party nomination. So the top two candidates in each race will enter a runoff to see who advances.
The winner of the Ward 7 runoff will head to the general election to face Republican incumbent Berdell Jones. The winner of the Ward 5 runoff automatically becomes the next council member, because there are no Democratic or independent candidates in that race.
The general election is June 2, and it will feature six City Council races and the mayoral race. Winners will serve a four-year term starting in July.
But the runoff focuses just on four people: Incumbent candidate Bill Martin and his challenger Jonny Davis in Ward 5; and candidates Willie Allen and Willie Jennings in Ward 7.
Martin, a retired insurance salesman, is finishing his first term on the council. During this time, he has strongly supported neighborhood revitalization and historic preservation. He also lobbied for the widening of East Main Street. He received 160 votes – or 27.4 percent – in the primary.
If re-elected, Martin said he’ll push for “neighborhood building with systematic maintenance of infrastructure, planning of sidewalks and recreation,” in addition to “lowering insurance premiums for business and homes.”
Davis works in business finance and is an active education advocate. He also serves on the city’s Major Thoroughfare Committee and vowed to work closely with this group if elected. He also wants to see East Main widened. He received 170 votes – or 27.6 percent – in the primary.
If elected, Davis said he’ll “bring true leadership to offer fairness and equal representation to the citizens of Ward 5 and ensure city services are distributed appropriately to all citizens.”
In Ward 7, political newcomer Willie Allen grabbed the largest share of the vote with 195 ballots – or 43.9 percent – in his favor. Allen is a private practice attorney and a former election director with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.
He wants to improve diversity within municipal government and “ensure that the citizens of Tupelo are informed of all issues and have access to all documents, meetings, and discussions which affect this city.”
His opponent, Willie Jennings, nearly won the Ward 7 council seat four years ago after tying with Jones in the general election. Jones eventually won in a post-election coin toss.
Jennings is a self-employed painter and landscaper and also serves on the city’s Multi-Racial Committee. He earned 143 votes – or 32.2 percent – in the primary.
If elected, he said he’ll attend community association meetings, finish road projects and encourage new industries to locate here. He also wants to “implement a system whereby residents and employees can address their grievances without fear of reprisal or termination.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.