CHICKASAW COUNTY – Local school districts have traditionally handled their own school board elections at various times, but a new state law makes it a countywide event in November this year.
“They used to conduct their own elections with their own people and everything,” said Chickasaw County Circuit Clerk Sandra Willis. “That won’t be the case this year. All districts will vote in November for candidates up for elections.”
School districts in Okolona and Houston have district voters elect two school board members with the other three trustees appointed by aldermen. That traditionally had Okolona and Houston school district voters casting a ballot for a trustee every other year.
All Chickasaw County school board members and the superintendent are voted into office by Houlka voters. The superintendent and two board members are voted on during regular county elections every four years. The remaining terms on the Houlka board a staggered.
Houston School Board President Bart Munlin has tentatively said he will not run for office this year. No one has qualified for that post at this time.
Okolona appointed all five of its new school board members in 2012 after the district came out from under state control. A new board member will not be elected until 2017 in Okolona.
Okolona School Board President Dr. Jerome Smith, Trustee Sara Jenkins and Trustee William “Bill” Smith are appointed by the city. Trustees William Bailey and Nancy Sullivan hold elected posts.
Houston’s other elected trustee is Thomas Howell, who was appointed by the Houston Board of Aldermen to fill the unexpired term of Zach Huffman who was required to resign after he moved out of his district.
Houston trustees Marvin Beard, Daniel Herringa and Carol Byrne are appointed by city aldermen. Beard’s appointment runs until 2015, Howell is up for election in 2016, Herringa is until 2017 and Byrne is until 2018.
Willis said candidates for school board have until 60 days prior to the Nov. 3 election to qualify.
Candidates for school board trustee must be a registered voter of the district they represent.
Candidates may not have been convicted of a federal crime or certain Mississippi crimes defined as punishable by incarceration in a state penitentiary unless they have received a full pardon. They also may not be convicted of a crime in another state that is considered a felony under Mississippi law.
Candidates cannot have been legally declared mentally incompetent.
School board candidates do not traditionally profess a political party.
Willis said candidates for various judgeships will also be on this fall’s ballot as well at the election of a Mississippi U.S. Senator.
Travis Childers of Booneville, the former 1st District U.S. representative, qualified Friday to run for the U.S. Senate seat held since 1978 by Republican Thad Cochran.
Childers, a Democrat, was a longtime chancery clerk of Prentiss County before winning a special election in 2008 to replace Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo, in the U.S. House.
Childers was defeated in his bid for re-election by then-state Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, who hammered the Prentiss Countian for his ties to the national Democratic Party in the conservative-leaning 1st District.
On the Republican side of the Senate race, state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville is challenging Cochran.
Vicksburg resident Bill Marcy, who has run unsuccessfully in two elections as a Republican for Congress, has qualified as a Democrat for the Senate post.
Cochran is considered the favorite in the race. First elected to the Senate in 1978, and with the exception of 1982, he has been re-elected with minimal Democratic opposition.
The party primary will be June 3 with the general election Nov. 4.