One seat, two potential occupants in Lee County race

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tuesday’s election picked a winner but didn’t decide who will fill Lee County’s District 2 election commissioner seat.
Wayne Chrestman won 57 percent of the votes over one-term incumbent Bettye Woolard, but he no longer resides in the district. The county’s political lines shifted in August, two months after both candidates had qualified in the race.
Redistricting happens after almost every decennial census to ensure each district has a proportionate number of constituents.
The new district lines place Chrestman in District 3, but he didn’t realize the change until four days before the election – too late to do anything about it.
Chrestman now considers himself the candidate-elect and said he’s ready to serve. Woolard said she’s waiting for answers before conceding the race.
“It’s not up to me to make that decision,” Woolard said. “This is still being investigated. It’s an unusual situation.”
Answers could take some time to come.
Lee County Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin said she first needs to certify all the election ballots – a process that could take until the end of the week. She said she’ll likely consult with the county attorney and others to figure out the next step.
Chrestman said he’ll also seek help from election officials. “My campaign will work with the election officials, the Secretary of State’s office, the Justice Department and the Attorney General’s office to discuss options to resolve the districting issue as well as the new district lines,” Chrestman told the Daily Journal. “We will also continue to question the legality of the enactment of the new district lines that we previously called into question.”
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com