TUPELO – Thirty-two candidates will vie for eight elected positions in this year’s municipal race, with at least two new faces guaranteed on the City Council.
All seven council seats and the mayor’s office had several hopefuls qualify by the 5 p.m. Friday deadline. No position is uncontested.
The contest to succeed Mayor Ed Neelly, who has decided not to seek a second term, will have four candidates: Republicans Jack Reed Jr. and James Presley, and Democrats Doyce Deas and Kentrel Boyd.
Boyd qualified just two days before deadline.
The council typically has nine seats, but it will lose its two at-large spots after the current term. A court ruling deemed the seats unconstitutional.
Also as a result of the ruling, Wards 4 and 7 were redrawn to include a larger number of minorities.
Of the two current at-large councilwomen, Carolyn Mauldin will leave politics while Deas is running for mayor. Two council members are not running for another term: Dick Hill from Ward 1 and Smith Heavner of Ward 3.
Primary elections are May 5; the general election is June 2.
Each ward has at least three candidates in this race. Ward 7 has the most with six. And in nearly every race, those who seek office said one of their first goals will be to unify elected leaders. This past term has seen numerous squabbles and divisions.
Candidates by ward are as follows:
- Ward 1: Cliff Brinkley, I; Patricia “Patsy” Griffin, D; Markel Whittington, R; Mike Williams, R
- Ward 2: Thomas Bonds, R, incumbent; Shelia Nabors, D; Fred Pitts, R
- Ward 3: Mike Coutoutmanos, R; James “Jim” Newell, R; George Witherspoon, D
- Ward 4: Nettie Davis, D, incumbent; Rhonda Betts, R; Tommy “Jake” Ruff, D
- Ward 5: Bill Martin, R, incumbent; R; Larry Cole, R; Jonny Davis, R; Ashley Lucas, R
- Ward 6: Mike Bryan, R, incumbent; Scott Davis, D; Mary Estes Hallman, D; Perry Smith, R; Russ Wilson, R
- Ward 7: Berdell Jones, R, incumbent; Willie Allen, D; Eric Hampton, D; D. Raphael Henry, D; Willie Jennings, D; Chris McKissack, R
Emily Le Coz/Daily Journal