Oktibbeha County Chancery Clerk Monica Banks will face her first election test since 2007 after Republican Michael Womack turned in his qualification forms for the position last week.
Additionally, a third Democrat, Cheikh A. Taylor, entered the race for the county’s third justice court judge seat.
Thirty-one candidates have now qualified for a variety of Oktibbeha County seats up for election this year.
Womack, who has worked as a paramedic for North Mississippi Medical Center and Baptist Memorial Hospital, will face Banks in the November general election as long as no other candidates qualify and force inter-party primaries.
Banks, Oktibbeha County’s first African-American chancery clerk, was elected in 1995. She last faced an opponent in 2007’s general election, when she defeated Republican Debra Prisock Wood 5,687 to 4,841.
Crowded court primary expands
Taylor’s filing now means eight Democrats, including three incumbents, are vying for the county’s three justice court seats.
The newest three-way race pits incumbent Judge James “Jim” Mills against Taylor and local attorney C. Martin Haug for District 3’s seat. Taylor is the executive director of the non-profit Brickfire Project, which services at-risk children and families, and is part owner of Level III, a Main Street entertainment venue.
Haug is the only attorney out of all eight of the justice court candidates.
District 2’s three-way race features Larnzy Carpenter, a former U.S. Marine with ties to county law enforcement, and Kennedy Neal, a long-time employee of OCH Regional Medical Center, challenging incumbent Judge W. Bernard Crump.
Incumbent Judge William Anton “Tony” Boykin Jr., who serves as Oktibbeha County’s District 1 justice court judge, will face Gay Lynn Williams, a deputy court clerk, for the right to run as the party’s candidate in the November general election.
Both Boykin and Crump ran unopposed in 2011, while Mills retained his seat in a three-way race, defeating Republican Buddy Johnston’s second-place showing by almost 400 votes.
No Republicans have qualified for either of the justice court races.
Coroner confirms re-election bid
A 32nd candidate, Coroner Michael Hunt, said he will seek re-election even though he has yet to turn in his paperwork.
Hunt ran as a Democrat in 2011 and defeated Republican Billy Miller by almost 4,000 votes.
Two Republicans — Doug Hamilton and Chris Pollan — previously qualified for this year’s primary.
Hamilton currently serves as Sturgis’ police chief and is a 32-year veteran of the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Pollan, a licensed funeral director and embalmer, spent 10 years examining financial institutions as a forensic and fraud specialist.
Incumbent circuit clerk also challenged
First-term Republican Circuit Clerk Glenn Hamilton is guaranteed a November challenge after E. Regina Evans, a Democrat, filed her qualification notice earlier this month.
His seat opened up in 2011 after then-Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis said she would not run for re-election. Glenn Hamilton defeated Democrat Teresa-Davis Roberson by almost 600 votes that year.
Davis is a former chief deputy within the department who worked for McGinnis.
No change in county board, sheriff races
No new candidates emerged for the county’s five supervisor seats or top law enforcement position since mid-January.
Sheriff Steve Gladney, a Democrat, faces an Aug. 4 primary against former Chief Deputy George Carrithers. Both men qualified as Democrats earlier this month.
Carrithers served as former Sheriff Dolph Bryan’s right-hand man for decades until Gladney defeated the former sheriff, who took office in 1976, by about 400 votes in the Democratic primary’s runoff election four years ago.
Gladney would go on to secure his seat by defeating Republican Rudy Johnson in 2011’s general election.
A rematch of that year’s closest race — the District 3 supervisor showdown between incumbent Marvell Howard, a Democrat, and Republican Dennis “Denny” Daniels — will occur if no other challengers emerge.
Howard secured a second term by defeating Daniels by three votes, while his Republican challenger previously staved off his GOP opposition, Benny L. Perkins, with a 404-172 margin in their primary.
Both men have military ties. Howard served in the U.S. Army, while Daniels joined the Miss. Army National Guard.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer, the longest-serving member and president of the board of supervisors, will face familiar foe Robert “Bubba” Lee Gray Jr., who filed as an independent candidate earlier this month.
Trainer, a Democrat, previously defeated Gray, who ran as a Republican in the last election, by almost 700 votes.
A primary is guaranteed for District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams, who will face fellow Democrat Sylvester “Dewayne” Davis, an 18-year veteran of Starkville Fire Department.
Williams earned his seat by defeating Democrat John Young in 2011’s primary.
Two Democrats — incumbent Curtis Randle and challenger Andre Quinn — previously qualified for District 2 constable, and the primary winner will face Republican Tim Cook in November if no other candidates qualify.
Incumbent Constables Shank Phelps and James Lindsey will again run for their respective District 1 and District 3 positions.
Phelps, a Republican, won his election four years ago by almost 800 votes against Democratic challenger Curtis White, Randle defeated Cook by almost 900 votes and Lindsey ran unopposed.
Other incumbents who have qualified include District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery, District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson, County Prosecutor Haley Brown, and Tax Assessor Allen Morgan.
The qualification window for this year’s primaries and general election closes 5 p.m. Feb. 27. All candidates must be qualified electors of the territory in which they are running and must never have been convicted of bribery, perjury or other infamous crimes.
Party primaries are scheduled for Aug. 4. November’s general election will occur on the month’s third day.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch