Pontotoc, Ecru have competitive primary races

By Pontotoc Progress

PONTOTOC – Residents in Pontotoc and Ecru will go to the polls to cast votes for mayor and boards of aldermen in Tuesday’s municipal primary election.
In Pontotoc’s mayoral race, incumbent Mayor Jeff Stafford, a Democrat, is opposed by former alderman Bob Peeples, also a Democrat.
Stafford, who previously served one term as alderman at large, is currently completing his first term as mayor.
“Continuing to build partnerships with education and industry that will provide a workforce that is work-ready is a priority,” said Stafford.
“Another priority is converting our fleet of vehicles to natural gas and lower our operating expenses,” he said. “Plus, continuing to eliminate blight, which includes litter and dilapidated property.”
Peeples previously served as Pontotoc’s alderman at large for 12 years.
“Cleaning the city would be a top priority,” Peeples said. “We need to tirelessly work to make Pontotoc more attractive for business, industry and homeowners.
“Industrial recruitment is always a top priority, plus enforcement of our ordinances. We need to enforce ordinances equally for all people.”
In Ecru’s mayoral race, incumbent Mayor Tom Todd, a Democrat, will face lifelong law enforcement officer Mark Baldwin, a Democrat.
Todd has served as mayor of Ecru for the past 18 years.
“One top priority is to get a grant to fund a new water well and storage tank on Highland Avenue, because our current well is substandard,” Todd said. “And we need to address a problem with our water system on the south side of Main Street going east.
“Plus, we have on the table now an offer from a company to prepare a complete comprehensive plan to take our town forward the next 20 or 25 years. We must be ready to move on this immediately and I have the experience to do just that.”
Baldwin brings to the arena 24 years of law enforcement experience, including 12 years of service as east side constable.
“I’ve been in public service all my life and I know what it’s like, and takes, to serve the needs of the people,” Baldwin said. “I would like an opportunity to bring that public service to the mayor’s office.”
Other hot races in Pontotoc include the five alderman posts. Pontotoc is divided into four wards with one alderman representing each ward, plus election of an alderman at large who is elected by voters citywide.
In Pontotoc’s Ward 1, Democratic incumbent Lena Chewe is opposed by Republican Kevin Walls. This race will not be on the ballot until the general election on June 4.
On the May 7 primary ballot, candidate Wade (Trai) Stegall III opposes Ward 2 incumbent alderman Tommy Patterson, while candidate Joe Hitchcock will challenge Ward 3 incumbent Dennis R. (D.R.) Simmons. All are Democratic qualifiers.
Ward 4 alderman incumbent Rayburn Mapp will face off Tuesday with fellow Democratic qualifiers Eric Inmon and Robert Hooker. Ward 4 Republican qualifier Regina Patterson will challenge the Democratic winner in the general election.
It’s all Democrats in the Pontotoc alderman at large race, where incumbent Herman Austin is opposed by challengers Phyllis High and David White.
It’s also all Democratic qualifiers in the Ecru alderman race, with five spots up for grabs and nine candidates vying for the posts.
Candidates include incumbent Charles Mitchell, Jimmy Whitehead, Donald Andrews, Glen Denton, Gloria High, Bernice Shumaker, Whitney Smith, Dr. James Speck and Carl Glenn Dowdy.