Senate race gets two last-minute qualifiers

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

Two additional candidates qualified Friday for the Jan. 11 special election to fill the District 6 Senate seat for Lee and Pontotoc counties.
In the other special election set for that day, no new candidates qualified for Northern District Transportation Commissioner, a race that has attracted seven hopefuls.
Friday was the deadline to qualify for both posts.
Entering the Senate race were Melony Armstrong, a Tupelo hair stylist, and Jonny Davis, a Tupelo City Council member. They joined four candidates who had qualified earlier with the secretary of state’s office.
The six candidates will vie to replace Alan Nunnelee, who stepped down from the Senate after being elected to the U.S. House in November.
The seven candidates for the Transportation Commissioner’s post are running to replace incumbent Bill Minor, who died unexpectedly Nov. 1.
Armstrong said she became engaged in the state legislative process about five years ago when she successfully lobbied to pass a bill that placed the practice of hair-braiding under state regulations.
“I want to work in that same vein, creating entrepreneur opportunities and working to bring unity,” she said.
Davis has been active in organizations supporting public education and ran unsuccessfully for the District 6 post in 2007.
The election will be nonpartisan, meaning all the candidates will appear on the same ballot. If no candidate obtains a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two finishers will be Feb. 1.
The winners of the two slots will have only a brief tenure before they have to run again in the regular statewide elections later in the year.
In that round of voting, the winners will have to declare a party affiliation and participate in a primary during the summer, or they can run as independents and go straight to the November general election ballot, where they will run against the Democratic and Republican nominees.
The office of state senator pays $10,000 annually, plus $1,500 per month when the Legislature is out of session. The office of Transportation Commissioner pays $78,000 annually.
Also on Jan. 11, voters in Harrison County will fill a state House seat that was left vacant when incumbent Steve Palazzo, R-Biloxi, was elected to the U.S. House.

Click video to hear audio