Reed wins big to become Tupelo mayor

TUPELO – Businessman Jack Reed Jr. will become Tupelo’s next mayor after handily winning Tuesday’s election.
Reed, a Republican who promised voters a fresh start after four contentious years at City Hall, beat Democratic nominee Doyce Deas, current councilwoman at-large, with 69 percent of the vote.
He won 4,593 ballots versus her 2,080.
“I’m humbled,” Reed said as he celebrated with roughly 200 supporters and a live band in the lobby of downtown’s Hilton Garden Inn, located across the street from his future office at City Hall.
The crowd included family members, city officials, business leaders and many young people.
“I feel like George Bailey in ‘It’s a A Wonderful Life,’” he said.
Reed carried 11 of the city’s 13 precincts by wide margins. He lost only the C.C. Augustus Center, Deas’ home precinct, and the Haven Acres Community Center, both Democratic-leaning, majority black precincts.
About 30 people turned out to support Deas at her campaign headquarters in the West Main Shopping Center.
Before polls closed a soberly optimistic Deas expressed frustration about what she anticipated as low voter turnout, saying that grassroots efforts to get out the vote on her behalf hadn’t yielded the desired results.
The 6,673 votes cast in the mayor’s race represented a nearly 10 percent increase in turnout from the May 5 primary when Reed and Deas won their party nominations.
But it was still only slightly more than a quarter of the city’s 25,000 registered voters.
Reed didn’t mention the turnout in his speech, which was laced with humor and gratitude toward his hundreds of volunteers. In it, he vowed to carry out his campaign visions of providing more jobs and more attractive neighborhoods for residents, among other goals.
After thanking his supporters, he spoke briefly of his opponent.
“To Doyce Deas and her family, I say that I appreciate Doyce’s concern for Tupelo and their past contributions,” Reed said to applause, “and I’m sure they’ll continue to contribute, and I wish the best to them.”
Reed, 57, is president of the R.W. Reed Co., which owns the iconic Reed’s Department Store. New to politics, Reed focused his campaign on bringing a fresh start to City Hall and ushering in the return of the Tupelo Spirit.
He will step down from his position at Reed’s when he takes his new job at City Hall. Reed will replace outgoing Mayor Ed Neelly, who decided not to seek re-election after having served one term.
The mayor-elect also thanked Neelly during his roughly 15-minute speech.
Neelly himself could not be reached for comment.
The new, four-year term begins Monday, July 6.
Deas thanked her supporters but didn’t mention Reed when it became clear that she had lost the race.
“I made a lot of new friends during this race,” Deas said after embracing supporters. “I’ll just continue to do what I’ve always done, trying to serve Tupelo and its citizens.”
Deas added that she’s eager to spend more time with her grandchildren and return to working in her garden.
At 64 years old, Deas is president of the Learning Skills Center and serves on the City Council in her first term, which ends next month. She ran her campaign around a message of unity and experience, vowing to tackle the tough issues of city business from her first day in office.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz and Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal