New Year Brings New Elections

By Amanda Compton-Ortiz

With the new year only a few days old a number of candidates running for municipal offices throughout DeSoto County have already taken steps to qualify for the 2017 May 2 primaries and June 6 general election.
Any run-off election, if needed, will be set for May 16.
The qualification period for candidates opened on Jan. 3 and will end at 5 p.m. on March 3.
So far, candidates in each of the county’s municipalities, except for the Town of Walls, have turned in their qualifying paperwork to their respective city clerk’s office.
According to Walls’ town clerk Kathy Gordon, candidates in the town of just under 1,200 people typically start turning in their qualifiying papers in February.
As of now, no candidates in the town have filed to run in this year’s election.
And since Walls doesn’t yet have a large enough population to be considered a municipality, Gordon said those candidates not running as part of a particular political party must turn in at least 50 signatures from registered voters in addition to the necessary paperwork to qualify for the race.
In the City of Horn Lake, Mayor Allen Latimer has filed to qualify for re-election to a second term.
Latimer said he wants to continue the city’s efforts in bringing people together to work towards a common goal of improving the community and its quality of life.
“I want to continue to see businesses and jobs come into the city, ” he said. “And this happens because of our board of alderman, citizens, chamber of commerce, churches and schools; everyone working together to help the community.”
Latimer also said if he’s re-elected he plans to also ensure continued growth of the city’s parks department and ongoing support for city police, fire and emergency crews in holding the proud title of the 7th safest city in the state of Mississippi.
Securing funds to improve drainage systems, especially in and around the city’s Horn Lake Creek, will continue to be a top priority as well, he said.
Other candidates who have entered to qualify in Horn Lake include incumbents Ward 2 Alderman Tommy Bledsoe and Ward 3 Alderman Thomas “Tim” Smith, who already faces potential competition with newcomer Kerry Rakestraw filing earlier this week as well.
Other newcomers including Francis J. Miller for the city’s Alderman Ward 5 seat, and Che’ Smith for Alderman At-Large, have also filed to qualify to run in the election.
In Southaven, Mayor Darren Musselwhite has filed to run for a second term.
Candidates filing papers to qualify for the city’s board of aldermen are incumbents Alderman At-Large William Brooks, and Ronald Hale, Ward 2; George Payne, Ward 3; Scott Ferguson, Ward 5.
Hale won back the Ward 2 seat he previously held from 2009 to 2013 during a special election in September, following former Alderwoman Shirley Kite’s decision to resign from the post. He said improving public safety throughout the community will be his main objective if he gets the opportunity to serve another term.
Candidates filing papers to qualify in Olive Branch include Mayor Scott Phillips, Jr., who seeks a second term, as well as board of alderman incumbents Gil Earhart, Ward 1; and Mark Aldridge, Ward 5. Newcomer Tanner Kuntz for the Alderman Ward 4 seat has also filed to run.
In Hernando, Mayor Chip Johnson has filed to run a fourth term in office.
Johnson said the management of $14 million worth of road projects for the city as well as obtaining additional federal funding for improvements to infrastructure will be at the top of his agenda over the next four years if he is re-elected.
He said the road projects, which are being paid for with federal funds along with a 20 percent local match, include the realignment of McIngvale Road between Byhalia and Green T roads, the paving of West Commerce Street from the city’s square westward to the city limits, the paving of Mt Pleasant/Byhalia Road from the Methodist church to McIngvale, and the paving of McIngvale from Commerce to Byhalia Road.
New traffic signals will also be installed at the intersections of Highway 51 and Nesbit Road and Highway 51 and Robinson Street as part of the project.
Other candidates in Hernando who have filed to qualify for the election are incumbents Ward 6 Alderman Jeff Hobbs, and Ward 5 Alderwoman Cathy Brooks. Newcomer James Liston has also filed for qualification to the city’s Alderman At-Large seat.