By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Associated press
Pearl River County has two municipalities, and while they are within the same county, how elections for their respective governing bodies play out is very different.
Picayune, the southern most and largest municipality, is governed by a weak mayor, city manager type of government with five council members. The city manager is appointed by the council. Each council member runs in one of five districts in which they live. A map of where the new districts are, since the recent annexation, can be found at the city’s website located at www.picayune.ms.us.
Poplarville, the county seat, employs a strong mayor and board of alderman type of government. In Poplarville each of the five alderman and the mayor run city-wide, meaning city residents can pick from every candidate running for their respective office.
According to a release from the Poplarville City Clerk’s office candidates in the race for alderman move from the primary to the general election by obtaining the most votes city-wide. There are separate Democratic and Republican primaries. Because there are only four Democrats running for aldermen, they are automatically in the general election.
There are eight Republican candidates in the Republican primary. Those who have clear majorities move on to the general election and if there are less than five that have clear majorities, there will be a second primary.
The winners to move to the general election are determined by two calculations that involve dividing all of the votes received.
The first calculation divides the votes by five, which is the number of seats. The second calculation divides the result of the first by two and then adds one to the total. If less than five nominees are determined by that process then the remaining candidates, two for each vacant nomination, will be determined in a second primary.
“If one nominee is to be determined in the second primary, the two candidates who received the most votes in the first primary without getting a majority would be on the ballot in the second primary. If two nominees are to be determined in the second primary, the four candidates who received the most votes in the first primary without getting a majority would be on the ballot in the second primary, and so on,” states an e-mail sent out by the Poplarville City Clerk.
In Picayune candidates, except for the mayor, runs in their respective districts. Winners will be those candidates who receive the most votes.
For the Picayune city council election only one incumbent is running unopposed, District IV council member Larry E. Breland (D). All other seats have competition during the upcoming election.
For the position of Mayor incumbent Ed Pinero Jr. (R) faces Mark Thorman (D).
In District I, incumbent Larry Watkins faces fellow Republicans Tammy Valente, Richard Carriere and Glennis Neal Jr.
Incumbent District II council member Lynn Bogan Bumpers will face fellow Democrat Chris Carter.
District III incumbent Jason Todd Lane faces fellow Republican Janice Miller Stevens.
The last contested race is in District V where incumbent Wayne Gouguet will face fellow Republican Brian Goetzmann.
All Poplarville candidates are running city wide. Which means voters will pick five candidates for alderman positions, and one candidate for the position of mayor from all of the candidates running for respective positions. Incumbent candidates for alderman include John Sherman (R), Byron Wells (R), Shirley Wiltshire (D) and John A. Grant Jr. (D).
Challengers for the positions of alderman in Poplarville include Don Lee and Margaret Ann Smith, both Democrats, and Benjamin Breland, Steve Colston, Jason Pearson, Mark Bridgers, Keith Brown and Randy Brown, all Republicans.
Two candidates will face off for the position of mayor in Poplarville, Bill Winborn (D), and incumbent Billy Spiers (D).
City residents in both municipalities wishing to vote during the general election should ensure they are registered with the Pearl River County Circuit Clerk’s office before the May 4, deadline for the June 4, general election.
The deadline to register to vote in the primary election has passed.
On April 27, the city clerk’s office in each city will begin to accept absentee ballots for the primary election. The deadline to turn in or have absentee ballots arrive at that office is May 6 by 5 p.m. The primary election will take place on May 7. If a runoff is needed it will take place on May 21.
Winners of each seat will take office on July 1, of this year.