Candidate forum set for Ward 3 special election

news_politics_greenDaily Journal

TUPELO – Each candidate for the Ward 3 special election next week has confirmed participation in a Daily Journal-sponsored political forum, providing more information for undecided voters.

The candidate forum Sept. 2 at Lawndale Presbyterian Church will include the seven residents seeking to represent the 5,300-resident ward after Jim Newell resigned earlier this month. They’ll make statements about their candidacy and answer questions.

The Lee Acres Neighborhood Association will host the gathering at the church, 1500 Lawndale Drive, where the group meets monthly.

Voters cast ballots on Sept. 4. If necessary, a runoff election will be Sept. 18.

Brenda Conrad, a Lee Acres resident for nearly 40 years, said concerns remain high to keep crime low, encourage homeownership and ensure enforcement of Tupelo residential code enforcement.

“We need to put somebody in place who will represent us,” she said.

Residents and others interested in watching the 7:30 p.m. candidate forum have two options – attend the political event in person or watch a live broadcast online at

Daily Journal executive editor Lloyd Gray said Tupelo city government remains a high coverage priority for the news organization and believes the event will better inform residents before the election, even those who can’t attend.

“We want to add a new dimension to our coverage by sponsoring this forum and offering it live online for the citizens of Ward 3,” Gray said. “We plan for this to be just the first of many such events to be offered on in the future to help better inform voters about their choices in upcoming elections.”

Sherry Ashley, president of the neighborhood association, said the nonpartisan special election has a critical importance for the south Tupelo political territory.

“This councilman will be the one who connects our neighborhoods to the city,” she said.

Candidates seeking to fill the unexpired term ending in 2017 include the following:

• Lorna Holiday-McGee, 61, a former Tupelo Public Schools teacher.

• James “Jim” Pitts, 65, a warehouse technician for Comcast.

• Travis Beard, 68, recently retired Milam Elementary School principal and former math teacher and coach.

• James Hull, 62, a pastor and media consultant.

• Mike Coutoumanos, 62, a health care professional and former Ward 3 councilman from 1997-2001.

• Ed Breedlove, 30, an assistant shipping manager at Gibson Corrugated and a singer/songwriter.

• Derek Russell, 29, director of operations at the Link Centre and owner of an animal care business.

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