Seven candidates qualify for Tupelo Ward 3 election

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By Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Seven Ward 3 residents filed paperwork by 5 p.m. today to appear on the ballot for a nonpartisan, special election in less than three weeks.

Two new candidates today joined five others in hopes of representing the City Council seat vacated by Jim Newell, who moved to Saltillo and resigned from office.

Contenders bring a wide mix in age, professions and other experiences in the local contest to represent the city ward of about 5,300 residents.

Candidates who filed paperwork in time for today’s deadline are:

• Lorna Holiday-McGee, 61, a former Tupelo Public Schools teacher.

• James “Jim” Pitts, 65. No other information was immediately available.

• Travis Beard, 68, recently retired Milam Elementary School principal and former math teacher and coach.

• James Hull, 62, a pastor and media consultant.

• Mike Coutoumanos, 62, a health care professional and former Ward 3 councilman from 1997-2001.

• Ed Breedlove, 30, an assistant shipping manager at Gibson Corrugated and a singer/songwriter.

• Derek Russell, 29, director of operations at the Link Centre and owner of an animal care business.

All candidates will appear on the ballot pending a criminal background check to ensure none have a felony conviction, which would disqualify them from office.

State law requires the candidates to collect a petition of 50 current registered voters in the city ward as part of paperwork to qualify.

A single candidate must win at least 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff election on Sept. 18. As the field of candidates grows, chances of avoiding a runoff election shrink.

A runoff election will Sept. 18 if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

Ward 3 stretches from the central part of Tupelo near Crosstown and includes neighborhoods in the historic downtown, Gravlee and Mill Village, along with Lee Acres and Audubon.

The ward also includes the commercial and medical areas along South Gloster and Green streets and extends south to the recently annexed Summit subdivision near Verona.

Read more in Saturday’s edition of the Daily Journal.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com