Speculation grows for ’13 Tupelo elections

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Most current City Council members plan to seek re-election next year, but it remains unknown whether they’ll face competition.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s recent decision to step down in June launched speculation about who else will or won’t run for municipal office in 2013.
Four out of seven council members – Jim Newell of Ward 3, Nettie Davis of Ward 4, Jonny Davis of Ward 5 and Willie Jennings of Ward 7 – told the Daily Journal they’ll fight for another term.
Three said they might seek the mayor’s office: Markel Whittington of Ward 1, Mike Bryan of Ward 6 and council President Fred Pitts of Ward 2. All said they’d run again in their wards if they opt against a bid for highest office.
Former city councilwoman and past mayoral candidate Doyce Deas also said she might run for mayor.
None have made a formal announcement.
They and other interested parties have until March 8 to qualify for the election. Most candidates wait until closer to the deadline to do so, meaning speculation about who else enters the fray might linger another four months.
Add to that uncertainty the city’s soon-to-change ward lines. After having annexed roughly 16 square miles from six different areas ringing the city, Tupelo now must redraw its ward lines to include new residents.
Council members are mulling at least two different ward maps created by Three Rivers Planning & Development District, but they haven’t reached any formal agreement. They hope to pick a final version by next week that then would go to a 10-member volunteer citizens committee for review.
The council voted Tuesday to create the committee, whose members are now being selected and could be announced by next week. The group will study the proposed map and make comments and suggestions.
“Our goal is to submit our proposal to the Department of Justice before the end of the year,” said city attorney John Hill. “When the new year starts, we would like to have our lines drawn to what we propose them to be.”
Until then, voters and potential candidates won’t know in which ward they reside.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com