Lee County supervisors face re-election challenges

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A dozen eager candidates want a shot a running Lee County government the next four years.
The 12 hopefuls, including five incumbents, are vying this year to fill the five slots on the Lee County Board of Supervisors. Four candidates will compete for the District 1 seat; two each will go after District 2 and District 3; and three will battle for District 5.
District 4 incumbent Tommie Lee Ivy faces no opponents and will sail into his fifth term without a challenge.
Competitive primaries on Aug. 2 include the Republicans in Districts 1 and 2 and the Democrats in District 5. Districts 1, 3 and 5 will have Republican-Democrat matchups in the November general election; District 4′s Tommie Lee Ivy is the only incumbent who has no opposition in either the primary or general election.
It’s not a glamorous job, but supervisors do get an annual $44,700 salary and use of a county vehicle.
In the past four-year term, supervisors have adopted annual budgets, approved the hire of several county employees and set their salaries. They also have challenged Tupelo’s annexation bid and accepted numerous grants for the construction of new facilities, including the second phase of the Community Development Foundation’s business incubator.
Whoever is elected to the next term faces a new set of challenges, including the decision to expand the cramped city-council jail despite inadequate funding and the fallout from Tupelo’s annexation case. It’s currently on appeal in the state Supreme Court.
Boards of supervisors are the funding authorities for local school districts, county volunteer fire departments and fire protection districts, sheriff’s departments and local courts, as well as county road maintenance departments.
Supervisors also have the power to act as justices of the peace.
Of the four contested seats, only District 1 welcomes first-time candidates. The other races feature the familiar faces of previous candidates. Most challengers say Lee County constituents need leadership change.
Lee County operatesunder the unit system, which requires a county administrator to manage personnel and other matters, a road manager or engineer to decide which roads need maintenance and a central purchasing system.

SUPERVISOR PRIMARIES
These are the competitive Lee County supervisor races on the Aug. 2 Republican and Democratic primary ballots. District 3 has only one Republican and one Democrat running and there is no primary or general election contest in District 4.
* District 1, Republican primary – Tommy Dale Holcomb, Paula “Virginia” Mitchell and incumbent Phil Morgan
* District 2, Republican primary – Paul Turner and incumbent Bobby Smith
* District 5, Democratic primary – Ken Dye, Billy Joe Holland and incumbent Joe McKinney
For profiles and interviews of all candidates, including those without primary opposition, see today’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.

emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.