September 11, 2019 11:00:07 AM
Pierre Beard will be the new Ward 4 councilman in Columbus.
Beard defeated Kegdra Gibbs-Gray by a 356-251 margin Tuesday in the runoff election for the seat.
He will fill the vacancy left by Fred Jackson, who resigned from the council July 3. The unexpired term runs through June 2021.
"I'm feeling good," Beard said Tuesday night after the results had been counted. "... I'm ready to work for all of Ward 4. I'm ready to do the job that the people of Ward 4 gave me."
Beard, 31, who previously ran unsuccessfully for the same council spot in 2017, owns dance organization Golden Triangle Elite and is currently studying education at East Mississippi Community College. He finished second to Gibbs-Gray in the six-candidate race Aug. 20 to qualify for the runoff.
Gibbs-Gray, 43, has owned K-Gray Financial Services for more than 10 years and has worked with the Mississippi Democratic Party and served on the Lowndes County Democratic Executive Committee. She currently is an officer with the Mississippi Federation of Democratic Women.
She did not respond to calls from The Dispatch by press time but shared her feelings on Facebook Tuesday night.
"I want to thank everybody that came out and voted for me," she posted. "I want to congratulate Beard."
After the Aug. 20 election, when Gibbs-Gray outpaced Beard 195-114, District 5 Lowndes County Supervisor Leroy Brooks filed a complaint against Gibbs-Gray with the Mississippi Secretary of State's Office asking for an investigation into possible voter fraud. Gibbs-Gray received 74 absentee votes, compared to 15 for the rest of the field, in the first round. Six of her absentees were from individuals who had changed their addresses from outside Ward 4 to Gibbs-Gray's house following the announcement of a Ward 4 election in July.
A Secretary of State's representative confirmed the office received the complaint and forwarded it to the Attorney General's office. A representative for the AG said office policy prohibited commenting on investigations.
In Tuesday's runoff, 107 of Gibbs-Gray's votes (42.6 percent) were absentee. Beard collected 84 absentee votes. There are five affidavit ballots to be processed today.