By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Lafayette County voters ousted two incumbent supervisors in Tuesday’s primary, and another faces a runoff to make it to the Nov. 8 general election.
District 4 Supervisor and Board President Lloyd Oliphant was defeated for the Democratic nomination by Chad McLarty.
Oliphant, president of a paint company, said a proposed expansion of the city-county sports complex cost him votes.
“Chad publicly supported spending $1.5 million supporting the tennis complex. I publicly opposed it,” he said. “I honestly can say the county is in a lot better condition … than it was before. Lafayette County gets recognition all over the state, and I feel like I had some part in that.”
McLarty, Oxford’s water superintendent, said his city connections may have helped.
“We’re all Lafayette County citizens, and I’d like to see us all work together and get along,” he said.
McLarty will face either Trammell Wells or Cecil Locke.
Insurance company owner Johnny Morgan lost his bid for re-election as District 2 supervisor to Jeff Busby in the Democratic primary.
With no Republican opponent in November, Busby, a 45-year-old store owner, is assured of the office.
“I think it’s just a situation where my opponent ran a good, clean campaign, and I just got beat,” Morgan said.
Busby’s campaign enjoyed the influence of his mother, retiring Circuit Clerk Mary Alice Busby, and his uncle, retiring Superintendent of Education Mike Foster.
Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson is Busby’s business partner.
“I’m blessed with a supportive family and supportive friends, and I’ve tried to meet every resident of District 2,” Busby said.
He echoed McLarty’s wish to improve city-county relations.
“I’ve worked with folks from the city, the county and the university for 25 years,” Busby said. “I’ve always had good relationships with them all.”
District 5 Supervisor Ray Sockwell Jr. faces a runoff with Mike Roberts for the Democratic nomination.
The incumbent points to ongoing industrial expansions, prompt disaster responses after tornadoes in 2008 and 2011 and the anticipated construction of a new hospital as positives on which he has worked.
“I can’t think of a better place to be living and working than Lafayette County,” he said.
Roberts, an insurance agency owner, said no one issue drives the election except voters’ desire for change.
“Issue-wise, I think they’re ready for a progressive attitude and conservative values,” he said.
Both men come from political families: Ray Sockwell Sr. held the District 5 supervisor post before retiring in 2001, and Roberts’ father is Chancery Judge Ed Roberts.