February 16, 2017 11:10:56 AM
June's General Election will now decide who will represent Ward 5 in Starkville.
Republican Chase Neal, the race's third overall candidate, qualified as a Republican last week after two Democrats -- Kayla Gilmore and Patrick Miller -- threw their hats in the ring last month.
The winner of May's Democratic Primary between Gilmore and Miller now will face Neal in June.
Neal, 33, is an independent social media brand manager originally from Meridian. He served seven years with the Mississippi Air National Guard and most recently worked about a year with social media as an employee of the Mississippi State University Office of Public Affairs.
Watching Meridian leaders help revitalize the city's downtown inspired him to do more for Starkville, the self-described moderate said, since he now considers it his home.
"I've always had a desire to make where I live better. Seeing that process -- that people in the community can bring others together and make a difference -- really appealed to me," he said.
A quote from Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist -- "When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too." -- should apply to improving one's community, Neal said.
"I love Starkville. It's become that perfect place for me," he said. "Even though it's an amazing place that's wonderfully diverse and has so much to do, we can always strive to be better and leave the place better than the way it was when we got there."
Gilmore, 33, is a former city election commissioner who vacated her position to run for office. She is the owner of KMG Creations Dance, Fitness and Productions.
Miller, 26, is an employee of the Mississippi State University Extension Center for Government and Community Development. He is also Ward 5's representative on the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission.
Democratic and Republican primaries will be held May 3, and the General Election is scheduled for June 6.
The deadline to qualify for the municipal election cycle is 5 p.m. March 3.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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