There were few surprises on primary election day Tuesday. One supervisor was ousted, a recently appointed Columbus police chief won nomination for the Democrat sheriff’s race and a former New Hope principal suing the school district led its parties nomination bid.
Frank Ferguson had served one term as District 2 supervisor and was seeking one more (he had stated he only wanted it one more time. RW). Ferguson was ousted, Tuesday, by longtime, popular banker and businessman Bill Brigham (Brigham’s wife, Allegra, is rumored to be mulling over a possible Columbus mayoral run in 2013. RW.)
Many had speculated that Ferguson’s problems began back when he decided to stand up to District 1 Supervisor Harry Sanders (also board president – Sanders won his Republican primary easily, Tuesday, over Phillip Atkins. Sanders will face Road Department employee Joey Pounders, an independent, in the November General election. RW).
But others close to the District 2 supervisor’s race speculated that voters probably felt Brigham was the better choice of representation for the district.
I’d like to think that’s the reason why Ferguson was beaten, Tuesday. I’d also like to think that Brigham will an independent voice on the board and will make his own decisions that represent his constituents and that of the entire county. There has been surprising harmony on the current board (aside from the longtime Sanders/Brooks feud. RW) And, political differences aside, this board has been a very productive one. Best of luck to Ferguson as he moves on with his life and Brigham as he takes control of some difficult tasks that lie ahead.
District 4 incumbent Supervisor Jeff Smith had been rumored to be on his way out in the last few weeks. He was facing a serious challenge from former Road Department employee Howard Smart, who is involved in a lawsuit against the county. Smart had an early lead Tuesday night for a while. Former Supervisor Jim Terry (who was ousted by Smith 4 years ago in District 4) had been actively campaigning for Smart (which might have had a reverse effect. RW). Smart beat Smith badly in the Plum Grove precinct (which had been predicted. RW) but many had also thought that Smart would beat Smith in Crawford, which didn’t happen. Smith led Smart 272 to 250 in Crawford. Smith also pounded Smart at Mitchell 294 to 54 and Coleman 76 to 24. And at The National Guard Armory, Smith beat Smart 438 to 269. The other candidate, Anthony Sanders, was never really a factor in the race.
When Jeff Smith was first elected nearly four years ago, I had my doubts about him. He has proved me wrong…very wrong. Smith is actually a breath of fresh air for this board. He’s a workhorse for his constituents.
District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks had little problem disposing of challenger Kenneth McFarland, Tuesday. Though early on there were murmurs of a real challenge from McFarland, in the long run that specualtion fizzled and it could be attributed to McFarland being in the middle of the Columbus School board budget mess. Suggestions about McFarlands’ salary and his duties were raised recently and many in the black community had made an issue of it, as did Brooks.
Brooks could possibly have a tougher time in the November General election from former Packet Owner/Editor Roger Larsen. Larsen is running as an independent.
District 3 Supervisor John Holliman had no primary opponent and will face former supervisor Mike Smith (who is also running as an independent) in the November general election.
McQueen Wins Democrat Sheriff Nomination!
Bo Harris Narrowly Gains Runoff With Arledge To Battle For Republican Nomination!
Selvain McQueen, who was recently named interim Columbus Police Chief after the firing of Joseph St. John by the city council, won the Democrat nomination for sheriff in somewhat of a surprise Tuesday. McQueen was generally expected by many to be in a runoff with fellow challenger Anthony Nelson, but McQueen ended up garnering nearly 55% of the vote to avoid the runoff. Nelson could only muster a little over 32% of the vote to finish a distant second. John Pevey, who had recently been suspended and then retired from the police department, received only 7.50% of the vote and Sherman Vaughn only received a little under 5%.
McQueen will move on to take on the winner of the August 23rd Republican primary winner between ticket-leader Mike Arledge and second place finisher Bo Harris.
Arledge, who narrowly missed avoiding a runoff with Harris by about 20 swing votes in either direction (being an additional 20 for Mike and 20-less for Bo. RW) received 4317 of the Republican sheriff ballots cast (or 49.66%) to Harris’s 3135 votes (or 36.06%). Third place challenger Barry Goode received 818 votes (9.41%) and Joey Brackin ended up with 413 votes (or 4.75%).
Arledge and Harris will now have to rally their supporters to return to the polls again on August 23rd to determine the nominee.
I had stayed at the courthouse Tuesday after everyone else left except for the Republican and Democrat poll workers counting absentee ballots by hand. The workers were a joint committee of the two parties which Circuit Clerk Haley Salazar told me were agreed upon by the parties. There was over a 1000 absentee ballots cast and the results obviously came in slowly because of the hand count. The results of the absentee count could have changed a few races and in particular the Republican sheriff’s race, where Arledge had received 49.72% of the precinct votes. As mentioned earlier, about 20 swing votes between Arledge and Harris could have been the difference of a runoff or not in that race. Arledge received 179 absentee ballots to Harris’s 148. The consistency of Arledge’s percentage lead actually dropped after absentee balloting was counted to 49.66, thus a runoff will have to take place.
Lynn Wright Leads
Will Runoff With Edna McGill
In Republican Race
Former New Hope Principal Lynn Wright lead a Republican primary ticket over Edna McGill, Tuesday. Not far behind but in 3rd place was Sam Allison.
Wright will runoff with McGill on August 23rd giving Republicans another reason to return to the polls on that day other than the sheriff’s runoff. Wright received 2305 votes or 43.86% to McGill’s 1561 votes or 29.71%. Allison was a close third with 1375 votes or 26.17%.
Wright supporters, apparently much stronger than anticipated by many, are adamantly behind him after an alleged improper lawn mower purchase that prompted him to sue the school district. It’ll be interesting to see who Allison supporters decide to back in the runoff. (I heard many would support McGill, but there is a good bit of ground to make up. RW).
In either case, the winner will have to face unopposed Democrat Cliff Reynolds, as well as 2 independents (Rusty Greene and Roger Hill) in the November General election.
Peggy Phillips Re-elected Judge, Joe Ables Re-elected Constable
Two of our longstanding elected officials had little trouble with their opponents. Justice Court Judge Peggy Phillips will judge-on for another term. So will Constable Joe Ables (who only wanted it “one more time”! RW)
Allison Pritchard Kizer Defeats Shane Tompkins for Prosecuting Attorney Nomination (Republican)
Two newcomers to the local political scene battled it out for County Prosecuting Attorney (because of the retirement of longtime prosecutor Tim Hudson). In the end, it was the association of Kizer and Hudson that probably won the nomination for Kizer, who ended up receiving two-thirds of the Republican ballots cast with 5774 votes to Tompkins’ 2816 votes. Kizer will move on to face Democrat Chuck Easley in the November General election.
Incumbent Chancery Clerk Lisa Neese Pounds Challenger
Many had speculated that Lisa Neese had made a mistake by not switching to the Republican Party and remaining one of the few white Democrats. But Neese supporters laid that specualtion to rest Tuesday. Neese pounded challenger Andre Roberts. Neese received 4523 votes (or 82.79%) to Roberts’ 938 votes (or 17.17%).
Neese will move on to face Republican Susan Robinson in November. Robinson was unopposed.
Jeff Smith Defeats Challenger Jack Larmour. Keeps
District 39 Seat!
Bambach defeats Allgood In Lowndes County. Allgood Wins District-Wide!
District 39 State Representative Jeff Smith, who switched to the Republican Party on qualifying deadline day, defeated recruited-challenger Jack Larmour, Tuesday. Smith received 3448 votes (or 60.58%) to Larmour’s 2243 votes (39.41%). Smith says he’s been in the legislature since 1979 and this is the first time he hasn’t received a congratulatory call from a losing opponent.
Longtime District Attorney Forrest Allgood defeated challenger William Bambach in Clay, Oktibbeha and Noxubee Counties, but lost Lowndes County to the attorney. Bambach won Lowndes County by receiving 2733 votes to Allgood’s 2608. Had it not been for big victories in Clay and Oktibbeha, Allgood would not be moving on to face Republican Steve Wallace in November.
I spoke with Ward 3 Columbus City Councilman Charlie Box after Tuesday evenings council meeting about the intentions of the council in dealing with the Columbus Municipal School District board considering the reports that many council members were publicly outraged because of the dire situation with the school board’s budget woes. It was reported that most councilmen were looking to oust the entire school board. Box said that the council got an attorney general’s opinion that said the council could do nothing.
“The Attorney General opinion stated that the only thing we could do was wait until their (school board members) appointments came back up and not re-appoint them. They don’t have to meet with us…we really don’t have any authority over them other than making an appointment,” Box said.
I had also heard that the school board would likely wait until the last minute (August 15th) to present their budget so that the council had no choice but to accept it.
Roger Larsen On Bicycle Road Trip
Rides Bike Through 110 Degree Oklahoma Heat!
Former Packet Owner/Editor Roger Larsen left a couple of weeks ago on a bicycle road trip to visit his kin in Oklahoma, Kansas and then on to his mothers home in Colorado. Larsen said he’s been averaging about 150 miles a day throughout his trip and has logged more than 1500 miles total…by bicycle!
Roger said coming through the 110 degree heat in Oklahoma was pretty tough last week.
Roger was in Colorado Monday and is expected to return to Columbus any day now. He’ll be here in time to gear up for his independent bid to oust Leroy Brooks as District 5 supervisor in November.
Ron Williams can be reached by email at Ronsings2you@aol.com0