TUPELO – Democrat Doyce Deas and Republican Jack Reed Jr. easily won their mayoral primary elections Tuesday and will face each other in the June 2 general election.
Deas dispatched Kentrel Boyd in the Democratic primary with just under 76 percent of the vote while Reed bested James R. Presley with nearly 80 percent in the Republican contest.
Turnout was much higher on the Republican side, with 4,291 votes cast for the two GOP candidates and 1,560 for the two Democrats.
Reed and Deas each carried all 13 precincts in the city.
The winner of the Deas-Reed matchup in the general election will succeed current Mayor Ed Neelly, who was elected in 2005 and decided not to seek re-election.
“Hands-on, full-time,” chanted about 30 Deas supporters as final numbers rolled in. The crowd gathered at the candidate’s campaign headquarters at the West Main Shopping Center, where Deas issued a challenge to Reed to “meet me in each of Tupelo’s 13 precincts.”
“We need to get out from behind expensive TV spots and billboards and answer questions directly from voters,” she said, adding that she was “looking forward to a vigorous campaign.”
Reed said he thought voters had better ways to spend their time than to see 13 different debates. However, at least two other debates have been scheduled.
He watched the election results with dozens of supporters in the lobby of the downtown Hilton Garden Inn.
“First, I’d like to thank the voters for their confidence,” he said. “It’s humbling to receive that big a vote.
“Secondly, I’d like to thank the volunteers and hundreds of citizens who have embraced our vision of Tupelo.”
Reed, 57, is president of the R.W. Reed Co., which owns the region’s iconic Reed’s Department Store. New to politics, Reed focused his campaign around bringing a fresh start to City Hall and ushering in the return of the Tupelo Spirit.
Deas, 64, is president of the Learning Skills Center and currently serves as an at-large councilwoman on the City Council. She has run her campaign around a message of unity and experience, vowing to tackle the tough issues of city business from her first day in office.
Reed was the first to enter the mayor’s race, announcing his candidacy in October, and he had raised and spent the most money among the four hopefuls during the campaign. Deas joined the race in January, raising and spending the second-most. Presley and Boyd entered the race in late February with the least amount of money raised or spent.
“I have no regrets,” said Presley, who gathered with friends and family at his Lawndale Drive home to await election results. “I was running on a less resourceful ticket, and I don’t think I’ll run again. If that’s what the citizens of Tupelo want, then that’s what they’ll have to live with.”
Presley, 62, is the manager of Mid-South Machinery, and this was his first bid for political office.
It was Boyd’s second attempt. The former Nettleton school resource officer had run for Tupelo mayor as a Republican in 2005. He faced opposition from local Democrats upon entering the current race under their party banner but finally received their qualification.
“I feel it’s somewhat strange how the Democrats could elect someone who was an independent,” Boyd said in reference to Deas, who won her council seat as an independent but became a Democrat to run for mayor. “But as she is the nominee for the Democratic party, and I will support her.”
Boyd said he’s not sure he’ll run again, leaving that decision “up to God.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Religion editor Galen Holly contributed to this report.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal