With the long-time mayor of Meridian not running for a fifth term, what will it mean for this year's election?
"It is a new era, a new day and presumably a new direction for the city," said
political analyst, Dr. Kathy Baxter, associate vice-president of Meridian Community College. She holds a Ph.D. in political science, and has been an avid political spectator for over 30 years.
Baxter said Mayor John Robert Smith's decision not to run has changed the dynamics of the mayor's race. She called it an excellent time for a candidate to say 'this is the passing of the baton' to a new generation of leaders.
"It allows the candidates to lay out a new course of action, maybe one that hasn't even been considered by the public or presented to the public," Baxter said. "So the public will have to listen very carefully to the candidates and what they are talking about for the future of Meridian."
Baxter said the primaries and general election will be a very interesting. As it is now, things are balanced with two Democratic candidates; Percy Bland and Casandra Sloan, and two Republican candidates, Cheri Barry and Bill Marcy.
"There have been rumors in Meridian that one, maybe two persons are interested in running as independent candidates," said Baxter. "They do not go through primaries. They simply qualify to have their names on the ballot for the general election."
Baxter said she believes things may heat up in the general election. Demographically, the city of Meridian was a majority African-American population; with the new annexation that may change.
Dr. Baxter said it is very likely that in the general election it will be an African- American candidate and a Caucasian candidate.
"I suspect that exit polling in Meridian would show that there is going to be some substantial amount of racial crossover for the vote for the candidates in the general election," she said.
And there's still a chance others may make their announcements to run for mayor. The qualifying deadline is Mar. 6. The primaries will be May 5 and the general election is June 2.