Special Election Deadline Looms

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

People wanting to run in a special election to fill the Mississippi House District 82 seat, held by Rep. Charles Young, Sr., till his death Apr. 29, have to qualify by 5 p.m. Friday.

Charles "Chuck" Young, Jr., the late representative's son, told Newscenter 11 that he intends to submit his paperwork to run on Friday. Bill Marcy, who was a Republican candidate for Congress in 2006, also told Newscenter 11 that he intends to run for the seat. Ward 5 Meridian city councilman, John Harris, who ran for the seat in 2007, has turned in the necessary 50 signatures to qualify, subject to verification by the circuit clerk's office.

Potential candidates have to get the required number of signatures on a petition and return it to the Lauderdale County Circuit Clerk's Office. The timetable was set by Gov. Haley Barbour when he scheduled the special election for June 9.

"People can walk in here with a petition at 5:00, but if they don't have enough names, they don't have time to go out and get more names," said circuit clerk Donna Jill Johnson.

For this reason, those interested are told to get more than the required number of signatures because often people think they are registered but they aren't.

Newly-elected election commissioner Wallace Heggie is working an election over a year before he thought he would.

In fact, three of the election commissioners are new and now they have only a month to prepare for this special election.

"We will be getting ballots ordered, make sure we have our election places set up, making sure we have election workers," said Heggie.

Several timelines are approaching. Not only do candidates running for the position need to turn in their paperwork, but those wanting to vote in the June 9 election must register by this Saturday.

The circuit clerk's office will be open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 noon to give residents the opportunity to register.

Local political analyst, Dr. Kathy Baxter, said she believes the fact that the special election is set for just days after the general municipal election in the city of Meridian could hurt voter turnout for the District 82 race.

"Voter turnout tends to fall off as people get tired of elections," said Baxter. "People get tired of hearing people campaign. You get tired of campaign speeches."

But before campaign speeches are made, the candidates must officially put their name in the race. Friday's deadline is sure to make for a busy day of decision making and collecting signatures.


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