Incumbent supervisor Duke faces challenger Rankin

n The other four supervisor seats were filled in the primaries.

BY LEESHA FAULKNER

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Either incumbent Charles Duke or challenger Darrell Rankin will go to the table to join the four Lee County supervisors whose races were decided in the summer primaries.

Both men’s names will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot in District 3. Returning to the board are Phil Morgan of District 1, Bobby Smith of District 2, Tommie Lee Ivy of District 4 and joining them is Joe McKinney of District 5.

All are incumbents except McKinney, who won election as a Democrat in the August primary over fellow Democrat Billy Joe Holland. Smith was the only incumbent without an opponent.

Rankin won the GOP nomination with 69 percent of the vote in a runoff with Larry T. McCord.

Duke didn’t have any Democratic opposition for the district, which includes portions of Tupelo and the west-central portion of the county.

Duke, 73, has served as supervisor for 19 1/2 years. He said he wants to continue to put his experience to use to continue to serve Lee Countians.

“I plan to continue working to ensure the economic progress of Lee County by seeing the Toyota project through to completion,” Duke said.

The former president of the Lee County Board of Supervisors also is chairman of the PUL Alliance, made up of representatives of Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties. The Alliance oversees development of the Wellspring site, which was chosen by Toyota for construction of its eighth North American assembly plant.

“We worked hard with the Community Development Foundation, Three Rivers Planning and Development District and Toyota to see this announcement made in February,” Duke said. “This is a boom for our county at a time when other industries are moving offshore.”

Duke also promised to support county programs in place to build and maintain roads and bridges.

On the proposed annexation of county areas by Tupelo, Duke is basing his position on the feelings of his constituents. If they don’t object, he said, he won’t, either.

His opponent, Rankin, sees annexation by any municipality in Lee County as an inevitable question for any area that has growth. He understands passionate arguments on both sides.

“However, an impassionate and impartial judiciary process must decide if the annexation is good for the whole or not,” he said.

The county’s most pressing issue, he said, is the increased housing demand because of the Wellspring project.

“It is imperative that a county building code be completed,” he said. “It must be reasonable to the builders, protective of property values and affordable.”

Other top issues include a plan for additional school capacity and infrastructure to accommodate growth as a result of Toyota’s decision to build in neighboring Union County.

Rankin believes the supervisor’s job requires three key qualities: leadership, fiscal responsibility and experience. He draws on his experiences in the military as both a commissioned and non-commissioned officer for leadership.

Additionally, Rankin was Tupelo’s director of public works for 6 1/2 years and the city coordinator for the citizens’ committee for the Major Thoroughfare program and the citizens’ Drainage Task Force.

Contact Daily Journal county-courts reporter Leesha Faulkner at 678-1590 or leesha.faulkner@djournal.com.