Races saw eight candidates busy yesterday making last minute pleas for votes and handing out campaign cards at the Chickasaw Development Foundation community center, the city’s lone voting precinct for municipal elections.
“The turnout was better than I expected but it was still light,” said Houston City Clerk Bobby Sanderson, who helped direct the count Tuesday night. “There were no flashpoint issues this year.
Sanderson pointed out there are 2,555 eligible voters in Houston and 817 voted in Tuesday Democratic Primary and 16 voted in the Republican Primary for a total of 833 ballots cast.
Houston hand-counted ballots which slowed election totals Tuesday night
Tuesday’s races had incumbent Mayor Stacey Parker running against challenger Terry Taylor. Both candidates ran as Democrats and since there are no Republicans running in this race, Tuesday’s election settled the matter.
Parker defeated Taylor, 665 to 157.
“We’ve done some things in Houston over the last four years,” said Parker. “We did a $1.5 million bond issue that paved 10-plus streets. We leased property at the airport and made $12,000 and a mill of taxes raises $18,000. We’ve done a lot to strengthen our parks and recreation program and paved the walking track at Joe Brigance. We also refinanced some bonds and will save the city $600,000.
Parker said if relected he hopes to develop a soccer field for Parks and Recreation. He wants to see more streets paved and more hidden infrastructure such as water and sewer pipes upgraded.
“And we need to be creative and make economic opportunity happen,” Parker added. “We are working with existing industry to keep jobs here and we stand ready to bring new jobs to Houston, too.”
Terry Taylor said this was his first campaign for public office and was glad for the support he garnered.
“My campaign was all about jobs,” said Taylor. “We look around and West Point getting a car factory and Pontotoc growing with their car factory and we need something like that, too.”
Taylor said the campaign opened his eyes to many needs in Houston.
“I want to thank those who encouraged me and I especially want to thank those who voted for me,” said Taylor. “It’s been a good experience.”
In another hotly contested race, voters saw Democrats Billy Voyles and Robert “Preacher” Ivy squaring off at the polls for the post of City Marshal. Voyles is a second term incumbent and Ivy is a veteran officer with the Houston Police Department and defeated Ivy 676 to 149
“We worked to put ankle bracelets on offenders and I stayed within my budget,” said Voyles. “I won’t say we don’t have crime but I think people feel safe in Houston.”
“I want to thank people who voted for me,” said Voyles. “If anybody every needs the Houston Police Department to do something, I want them to call me.”
Ivy said he ran to give people a choice and a chance to vote for change.
“I said I would be tough on crime,” said Ivy. “I want to see us enforce curfews, traffic violations and patrol more. People don’t commit crimes if the police are visible in their neighborhood.”
The city also elected an Alderman-At-Large with incumbent Barry Springer facing Amy Simmons Gardner. Both were Democrats and the winner of Tuesday’s election does not have any opposition in the June 4 General Election.
Springer won with 591 votes to Gardner’s 228 ballots.
“I pay more than $60,000 in taxes every year with my business and I am a businessman,” said Springer. “I’ve rented to a lot of people over the years and if Houston prospers, my business prospers.”
This was Springer’s third campaign for Alderman-at-Large.
Gardner said her focus was jobs.
“I want to help local business and industry expand,” said Gardner. “We’ve just seen Okolona open their industrial park and Houston needs to work to bring jobs to Chickasaw County. If a factory goes in over there, people will drive from Houston to work there. That will help Houston.”
The only other race settled Tuesday was in the Republican Primary that saw Alderman District 3 incumbent Frank Thomas and challenger Richard Cooper on the ballot. The winner of this race will now face Democrat Patricia Burgess Southerland in the June 4 General Election. Southerland was unopposed in her race and automatically advances to this summer’s final city election.
Thomas garnered eight votes and will assume his third term after defeating Richard Cooper who had two votes.
“The things that Houston has accomplished over the past few years are not my accomplishments but our accomplishments,” said Thomas. “A lot of people worked to get our streets paved.
“I am also proud of the direction we are going with improving our infrastructure – water and sewer,” Thomas added. “I want to thank people for voting for me and I need your continued support.”
Houston saw incumbent District 1 Alderman Tony Uhiren and challenger and Democrat Bobby Mooneyham unopposed in their respective primaries. Both men will advance to the June 4 General Election that will determine the winner for this post.
The June General Election will once again see voters turn up at the Chickasaw Development Foundation community center on Starkville Road to cast their ballots.