Paper ballots slow counting for four vacant legislative seats

Published 8:20 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2006

State Rep. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall and Hattiesburg City Councilwoman Deborah Denard Delgado will meet in the Nov. 21 runoff election for Senate District 41, a post left vacant by the death of Sen. Billy Harvey of Prentiss.

The district includes parts of Covington, Forrest, Jefferson Davis, Lamar and Marion counties.

The two were the top voter-getters Tuesday in a seven-candidate race. Fillingane received 6,154 votes or 48 percent, to Delgado’s 3,811 or 30 percent, according to complete, but unofficial results Wednesday.

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In the House District 116 election in Harrison County, Steven Palazzo of Biloxi was leading with affidavit and absentee ballots to be counted Wednesday, according to election officials.

House District 116, located entirely in Harrison County, was vacated by Rep. Leonard Bentz of Biloxi, who resigned after Gov. Haley Barbour tapped him for a seat on the state Public Service Commission.

Palazzo was on top with 49.97 percent of the vote, followed by Mary Ann Graczyk with 25.81 percent and George Emile with 23.86 percent.

The vote count continued Wednesday in two other legislative races.

The winners of the state’s four special state legislative elections — two in the Delta and two in south Mississippi — will serve the rest of this four-year term, which ends in January 2008. The vacancies were left by three deaths and a political appointment.

The vote tallying process was slowed by paper ballots that had to be hand fed into scanning machines.

Six candidates qualified to run in Senate District 14 for the seat left vacant with the death of longtime Sen. Robert G. “Bunky” Huggins of Greenwood. The district includes all of Carroll County and parts of Leflore, Attala, Grenada, Montgomery and Tallahatchie counties.

The candidates were Lydia Chassaniol of Winona, Karl Oliver, the Montgomery County coroner; Jim Arnold of Kosciusko, Hiram C. Eastland III of Greenwood, Jeffrey Ryan Hobgood of Holcomb and Jonathan McMillan of Kosciusko.

House District 34, which includes parts of Carroll, Holmes, Humphreys, Leflore, Montgomery and Washington counties, was left vacant by the death of second-term Rep. May Whittington of Schlater. Marvin J. Cochran of Avon, James “Mookey” Vail and Linda Whittington, both of Schlater, were competing for the post. Linda Whittington is a cousin by marriage to May Whittington.

Mississippi has 52 state senators and 122 House members when all seats are filled.