Seven of the eight candidates for three circuit court judgeships in the 16th District have filed mandatory campaign finance reports, which were due June 10. One candidate is sitting on more than $20,000, while another has yet to report his first contribution.
Two candidates are running for the judgeship based in Lowndes County, four for the seat that represents Clay and Noxubee counties and one judge is running unopposed for the seat based in Oktibbeha County.
Candidates are required to itemize any donation or expenditure greater than $200.
In Lowndes County, incumbent Jim Kitchens is facing off against challenger Chuck Easley.
According to a campaign finance report filed May 2, Kitchens had raised a total of $2,720, of which $2,100 was itemized donations. The biggest donor was Thelma Pugh, who donated $1,000; followed by Danny King at $600 and Joseph Dennis for $500. Kitchens’ report showed no spending, leaving him with $2,720 in cash on hand.
The report due June 10 had not been filed with the Secretary of State’s Office as of Monday morning.
Easley, on the other hand, reported donations and expenditures of zero dollars as of June 8, when his most recent report was filed. He is sitting on $0.
In the Clay/Noxubee race, Mark Cliett, Michelle Easterling, Bennie Jones Jr. and Trina Davidson-Brooks are all vying to replace Lee Coleman, who chose not to seek another term.
Cliett has raised a total of $12,675 and spent $10,236, according to his finance reports. All of Cliett’s financial action took place in the period ending April 30. The biggest piece of Cliett’s fundraising was $8,575 he put up himself. He also reported donations from: Joseph M. Marshall, who gave $1,500; Frank McRae, who pitched in $1,000; and Real Estate Closing Services Inc., and Danny King, who both gave $500.
Cliett’s largest expenditure went to Pollan Promos for $7,524. Other expenditures included $2,012 spent with Magnolia Motor Speedway, $500 for the Community Benefit Committee and $200 for the Cottrell Street Festival.
Cliett reported no donations or expenditures for the reporting period ending May 31. He had $2,439 in cash on hand.
Easterling, in a report dated May 5, reported $12,250 in itemized donations and $500 in non-itemized donations, for a total of $12,750. The largest donations were from Robert Hunter and Sue Altman, who both gave $2,500. Mickey Ratliff and Becky Boyd both gave $2,000.
Southern Trucking Company and Shuqualak Lumber Company both kicked in $1,000 each. Gene Smith and Frank Chiles Insurance Agency both donated $500, and, finally, Woodard Law Firm donated $250.
That same report showed $11,579 in itemized expenditures and $293 in non-itemized spending. The itemized spending included $2,175 paid to Shane Vamadoe for advertising; a total of $1,500 spent with The Eagle Consulting; $500 to the Caledonia Park Commission; $657 to Businesswright for website maintenance; and a total of $6,747 spent with Tellos Marketing for graphic design, promotional materials and website design.
A campaign finance report filed June 8 showed $9,048 in contributions, of which $6,250 were itemized. The largest contributor was Milton Sundbeck, Jr., who gave $2,500. Other contributors included Mary Alice Taylor, who gave $1,500; Kyle Chandler III, at $1,000; Kyle Chandler IV and Kathy Dyess at $500 each; and April Pena at $250.
She showed $7,553 in disbursements, including $7,426 that were itemized. They included $2,493 to Fabricators Supply for sign holders; $2,398 to Tellos Marketing for signs; $1,123 to Pollan Promos for campaign buttons; $500 to the Community Benefit Committee; $462 to University Screenprint for t-shirts; and $450 to Shendopen for advertising.
Easterling, as of her June 8 filing, showed $3,250 in cash on hand.
Jones, in a report filed May 10 that reflected spending through April 30, reported $10,000 in itemized receipts, all of which came out of his own pocket, as well as $1,019 in non-itemized contributions. He reported $6,285 in non-itemized expenditures.
In a report filed June 10, he reported an additional $800 in non-itemized receipts and a single $500 donation from Northgate Express. Jones said he spent $4,330 in non-itemized expenditures.
Jones reports that he has $1,455 in cash on hand.
Finally, Davidson-Brooks, in a report filed May 10, reported $27,117 in donations, $18,525 of which was itemized, and $5,600 in expenditures, of which $4,938 was itemized. On the donation side, Scherrie Prince donated $2,500; Austin Vollor, Genesis Real Estate, Parkside Properties, Merrida Coxwell, Dash Xpress Deliveries, Antwann Richardson and Edwards Enterprises all gave $1,000; Erin Winston, William Cunningham, Jacinta Hall, Scott Colom, Colleen Hudson, Veronica Landers, Yulanda Haddix and Trina Davidson all gave $500; Anthony Saffore, Jody Owens, Raashad Primm and Clark Arrington all gave $400; Alonzo Brooks gave $325; Derese Brand, Clarissa Harris, Marc Amos, David Alade, Jennifer Kimmons, Dennis Irby and Andrew Colom all gave $300; and Chynee Bailey, Benjamin Rush, Amanda Alexander and Brenda Dala all gave $250.
Itemized disbursements included $2,500 to Prince and Associates; a total of $1,438 to Signature Sound and Printing; and a total of $1,000 to Tina Rogers.
In the most recent reporting period, Davidson-Brooks reported $1,827 in donations, $550 of which was itemized. Robert Smith, Sr. donated $300, and Eugene Tanner donated $250.
Davidson-Brooks reported $1,988 in spending, $1,858 of which was itemized. They included $284 paid to Signature Sound and Printing Solutions and $1,574 paid to 1 Vision.
She reports a total of $21,355 in cash on hand.
Lee “Jay” Howard, son of retiring judge Lee Howard, is running unopposed for the Starkville judge seat and therefore has not filed a campaign finance report.
Circuit judges are elected every four years and the elections are non-partisan. This year’s election is Nov. 8.
They handle all criminal felony cases, as well as civil cases where the dollar amount involved is more than $200,000. Circuit judges also qualify juries in both criminal and civil cases.
The judges, although elected out of specific counties, hear cases in all four counties in this circuit.
Brian Jones is the local government reporter for Columbus and Lowndes County.