May 15, 2017 11:17:52 AM
Runoffs are set for Tuesday for races in Columbus, Starkville and West Point.
Voters who cast ballots on May 2 can only vote in the runoff for the same party. Eligible registered voters who did not cast ballots on May 2 can vote in either party's runoff.
In Columbus, incumbent Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner will face challenger Frederick Jackson in a Democratic primary runoff that will decide the seat. Turner bested Jackson by a mere 12 votes in the four-candidate primary on May 2.
A Democratic primary runoff will also decide who will be Starkville's next mayor, as former city chief administrative officer Lynn Spruill will face local attorney Johnny Moore. Spruill edged Moore by less than 100 votes in the three-candidate primary May 2.
Also in Starkville, a controversial tie between Republicans Ben Carver and Jason Camp forced a runoff between the two vying to capture the party's nomination for Ward 1 alderman. The party originally declared Camp the winner over the seat's incumbent by a one-vote margin in the May 2 primary, but later counted two affidavit ballots for Carver to give him the lead. Ultimately, the Republican Executive Committee disqualified one of those affidavits, leaving the race in a tie.
The winner of the Ward 1 runoff will face Democrat Christine Williams in the June 6 general election.
In West Point, Ward 1 Selectman Linda Hannah will face Leta B. Turner in a Democratic runoff to decide the seat. Hannah took more than 48 percent of the vote in the three-candidate race on May 2, compared to just more than 28 percent for Turner. However, she needed 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff.
Absentee voting ended Friday at noon for the runoffs. Starkville reported 268 absentee ballots cast as of Friday evening. West Point reported 154.
The Dispatch could not reach city registrar Brenda Williams by press time for Columbus' absentee ballot count, even though those ballots caused controversy in the May 2 primaries.
Eric Thomas is challenging the results of the Ward 2 race after incumbent Joseph Mickens received more absentee ballots than walk-ins on May 2. Mickens trailed by three votes in the three-candidate race and seemed poised for a runoff with Thomas before receiving enough absentee votes to push him over the 50 percent threshold needed to claim victory.
Jackson's campaign is also watching absentee ballots closely after Turner used absentees to jump to first place on May 2 from a distant second. Even without absentees, however, that race would have gone to a runoff.
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