Several candidates for Oktibbeha County elected offices have a distinct advantage this election cycle in that nobody else wants their jobs.
Chancery Clerk Monica Banks, County Attorney Roy Carpenter Jr. and Superintendent of Education James Covnington are all unopposed in their bids to serve another term in office. Tom Gregory, the lone candidate for county surveyor, will revive a long vacant position.
Chancery Clerk: Monica Banks
Banks, 53, is finishing her fourth term as chancery clerk. The position pays $90,000 to manage an office which is responsible for all civil court filings. This includes divorces, youth court, rehab services, land disputes, adoptions, Department of Human Services cases, estate matters, collecting delinquent ad valorem taxes, homestead applications and keeping the county land roll. The chancery clerk also serves as clerk to the board of supervisors, county treasurer and county clerk.
“I”m very grateful the electorate has chosen to stick with me again. I”ll do my best to be worthy of their confidence,” said Banks.
Banks graduated from Maben High School before attending Wood Junior College and studying business administration and political science at Mississippi State University. She served as assistant manager of the MSU bookstore for 13 years until it was privatized, then she went to work for three years as an office manager for a law firm.
Banks is a Democrat.
County Attorney: Roy Carpenter Jr.
Carpenter, 53, has served as county attorney since 1983. The position pays the same as a county supervisor, $44,000, and consists primarily of handling prosecutorial duties in the Justice Court as well as representing the county in drug court and youth court. The county attorney handles DHS cases in youth court and some civil matters such as representing the commissioner of public safety and dealing with hardship driver”s license requests from citizens convicted of DUI.
Carpenter has also served as Starkville city prosecutor since 1986 and is active in the Army National Guard. He completed a tour of duty in Iraq from 2004-2006. He received a bachelor”s degree in business administration from MSU before attending law school at the University of Mississippi. He graduated high school in Flushing, Mich., although he lived in Oktibbeha prior to and following high school. In fact, Carpenter”s family was among the founders of Oktibbeha County. His grandfather, Carlton Carpenter, was a Justice Court judge and ran the creamery.
Carpenter is a Republican.
Superintendent of Education: James Covington
Covington, 41, is completing his first term as Superintendent of Oktibbeha Schools. The post pays a salary of $88,000 to the top administrator, who is responsible for ensuring educational quality, budgeting, ensuring all district staff are properly licensed, ensuring the district meets all state and federal guidelines, serving in a public relations capacity as the face of the district and serving as liaison to the business community.
Covington is a graduate of Motley High School (now West Lowndes High School), and received his bachelor”s degree, master”s degree and education specialist degree from MSU. He taught business and computer technology for four years at West Lowndes High School before becoming assistant principal at Starkville High School. After a short stint at SHS, Covington became principal of East Oktibbeha Elemenatary, where he served for five years before being elected superintendent.
“I”m happy the voters have enough confidence in me to allow me to run unopposed and focus on the educational affairs of the district,” he said.
Covington is a Democrat.
Surveyor: Tom Gregory
Gregory, 58, will be the first man to hold the office of county surveyor in an unknown number of years. While the post is an elected office, it is an unpaid position and the county surveyor will largely function as a consultant.
Gregory, who has been a professional land surveyor for 20 years, will assist the county in the event of land disputes and lend his opinion on contracted survey work.
“I”m running just to be able to contribute to the community. Any way I can give back,” said Gregory.
The longtime member of the Mississippi Association of Professional Surveyors received his bachelor”s degree in geology from MSU. He graduated from Nanih Waiya High School in Winston County.
Gregory is a Democrat.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.