Two north Mississippi legislative seats on ballot Tuesday

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – While most Mississippians will be voting on federal posts and judiciary seats Tuesday, there will be two state legislative contests on the ballot.
Special state elections will be held Tuesday – in coordination with the federal and judiciary elections – to fill the Senate post left vacant by the resignation of Sen. Merle Flowers, R-Southaven, and the House post left open by the retirement of Rep. Tommy Woods, R-Byhalia.
While the vacated House District 52 includes a portion of Marshall County, the bulk of the population in the district is located in fast-growing DeSoto County.
According to the 2010 Census, the district consisted of 27,923 DeSoto County residents and 5,454 residents from primarily northern Marshall County.
While the election will be held this year under the districts drawn in 2002, the next round of elections will be held under the new districts that match the population shifts found by the 2010 census.
Under the plan drawn by the 2012 Legislature and approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, as required by federal law, the new District 52 will have 11,061 residents from DeSoto County and 13,757 from Marshall County.
The three people vying for the post are Jeremy Bryan, Bill Kinkade, and Van Wicker.
The four candidates vying for the District 19 Senate seat left vacant by Flowers are Kevin Blackwell, Pat Nelson, David Parker and Mike Smith. District 19 is based solely in DeSoto County.
Nelson currently is a member of the state House. If he wins the Senate post, another special election will be needed to fill his House seat.
Nelson’s election could change the dynamics on charter school legislation, which passed the Senate last year but died in the House. Nelson was a leader in a group of House Republicans who favored authorizing charter schools only in poor performing districts. Charter schools operate outside of many of the rules and regulations that other public schools must follow.
If no candidate wins a majority on Tuesday, a runoff will be required.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com