By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Longtime District 1 Supervisor Phil Morgan faces the board’s toughest battle to regain his seat in the upcoming elections.
Among his sitting colleagues, Morgan is the only incumbent who drew opposition from both Republicans and Democrats. And he alone must compete in both the Aug. 2 primary and the Nov. 2 general election.
Vying for the job in the GOP field are political newcomers Tommy Dale Holcomb and Paula “Virginia” Mitchell. They said Morgan has served long enough, and the people of District 1 deserve a new face on the board.
“After a person stays in office so long, they think the office is theirs,” said Mitchell, a 54-year-old electrician, landlord and owner of Mitchell Insulation. “They forget they work for the people. My desire is to serve District 1 of Lee County with integrity.”
If elected, Mitchell said she’ll adopt and maintain county roads in a way that’s fair to all residents. She’ll also push for local subcontractors to win local jobs, and she’ll forgo any pay raises until the county’s unemployment rate dips to at least 8 percent.
Holcomb, 38, said he’s a regular guy who got tired of everyday politics in Lee County and wants to make a change.
“I want my little girl to have a better in future in Lee County than what has been available in the past,” said Holcomb, who owns Country Flooring in Saltillo. “Our government is getting bigger, and our pay is getting smaller. And I realize that has to do with Washington, but it all starts here.”
If elected, Holcomb said he’ll make himself available to the people and lead with a servant’s heart.
These same phrases were echoed by Morgan himself during his first runs for office against longtime supervisor Billy Davis in 1995 and 1999.
Morgan at the time had contended District 1 voters wanted someone who was more responsive to their concerns and needs, arguing that incumbents often begin “to believe the office belongs to you and not to the people.”
He finally won in 1999. Since then, Morgan has helped the district adopt subdivision regulations that set a minimum standard of road and infrastructure construction. He also participated in the effort to bring Toyota to Northeast Mississippi, and he approved the paving of 250 miles of roads in District 1 alone.
“I run on my record,” Morgan said.
Whoever wins the primary race will face Democratic challenger and political newcomer Kevin “Scott” Russell Hurt in the general election. Hurt, a 30-year-old former radio personality, said he’s the best qualified candidate in the field.
“If we want to make Lee County a better place, we need to start spending time listening to what you have to say,” the Saltillo resident said. “That’s why if I’m elected, I will host town hall meetings so that your voice will be heard.”
Hurt, a cancer survivor, said he had to quit his radio job to run for office due to FCC regulations.
“On March 1, when I qualified, I gave up my job, my income, and my company-paid insurance,” he said, “because I’m committed to making Lee County a better place.”