July 14, 2017 3:52:15 PM
Carl Smith - firstname.lastname@example.org
A familiar face could take over as Oktibbeha County's interim circuit clerk.
Supervisors are expected to set Nov. 7 as the date for a special election to fill former Circuit Clerk Glenn Hamilton's seat and appoint an interim clerk Monday.
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery and District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller said they both support nominating former Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis as interim after McGinnis confirmed with them that she will not seek office in November.
McGinnis joined the office as a deputy clerk in 1989 and was first elected circuit clerk in 1995. She served in that role until 2012 and retired two years later.
"I told them I'd help out if I was needed. Oktibbeha County deserves a good, clean transition period," McGinnis said.
Both Montgomery and Miller said appointing McGinnis will keep a level playing field for others seeking office in November's election.
"I'm all for Ms. McGinnis. She has no intention of running, and that's very important because I don't want to put anyone in there to give them a leg up or to give anyone else considering running a leg down," Montgomery said. "Anyone with an intention to seek office - it's nothing personal, but I'm not going to put them in there. The campaigns will take place, a winner will be chosen by the voters and we'll work with whomever takes office. I want it to be a fair race."
Starkville Municipal Court Administrator Tony Rook confirmed to The Dispatch he will run for the circuit clerk's position. Rook, who has more than two decades of courtroom experience, has served as Starkville's court administrator and a department head for 18 years.
"I've been a resident of Oktibbeha County for 45 years. I'm a product of the public school system and Mississippi State University that has deep ties to the community, its residents and its court systems. I care about them all deeply," he said. "If supervisors decide to appoint Angie, I think that would be a logical decision based on her years of experience as a former circuit clerk. I'd also like to see the most qualified person elected, and I believe that is me."
Both Oktibbeha County Deputy Criminal Clerk Melody Monts and Deputy Elections Clerk Sheryl Elmore confirmed to The Dispatch they're contemplating election bids and could make a decision after an appointment is made.
Both deputy clerks said they're open to serving as the county's interim if supervisors choose to nominate them.
Elmore has worked in the clerk's office for eight years, which included a stint as the deputy over the county's civil division, while Monts joined the office in 2010 and also served as civil deputy clerk.
Another possible interim circuit clerk candidate is Cheikh A. Taylor, who previously ran for District 2's justice court judge position in 2015.
District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams said he's received numerous calls from constituents urging him to nominate Taylor.
Williams also said he could support an appointee who would later seek office, as the county made such a decision when supervisors nominated interim Chancery Clerk Sharon Livingston last year.
"We already knew she was going to run, and she had a bigger notice (in terms of time between her appointment and election) than the person coming into the circuit clerk's office will," Williams said. "I just about say we need some new ideas, new leadership into that circuit clerk's office, because there have been some things happen in the circuit clerk's office that have been kind of - I don't know how to put it, but they didn't seem to go down right. I just hope we appoint the right person."
Williams did not elaborate further on his comments.
Contact information for Taylor was not immediately available Friday, and District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard did not return a phone call by press time.
"I've had people call me about the appointment, but as of right now I'm just going to hold off and make that decision Monday," said District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer. "We'll make the appointment, set the election and have everything fall in place."
Hamilton, 61, vacated his seat and pleaded guilty to felony possession of methamphetamine Monday in Clay County Circuit Court after he and Rufus Edward Lewis were arrested for trespassing, drug possession and possession of Native American artifacts last summer.
He will serve one year of supervised probation and pay $1,500 in combined fines and restitution.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch