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Write-in candidates reach for judge seat

At least nine people have made it known they are candidates for a Chancery Court post in south Mississippi that will be decided by write-in ballots on Nov. 2.

The write-in election in the 10th Chancery Court District — one of two in the state — was made necessary when incumbent Judge James H.C. Thomas Jr. died Oct. 1. Thomas had been unopposed.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has said Thomas’ name still will appear on the ballot because they already were printed and the state has received absentee votes.

Should Thomas receive the most votes, Hosemann said Gov. Haley Barbour will appoint a judge for one year, and the position will go up for election again in 2011.

The district is comprised of Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Pearl River and Perry counties.

The Hattiesburg American reports that as of Monday it had received notification from nine people pursuing the judgeship. The newspaper said the nine have also affidavits on their candidacies to the secretary of state’s office, although that is not required for a write-in candidate.

The nine — all attorneys — are:

— Michael C. Barefield, 47 of Hattiesburg.

— Carol Ann Bustin, 44, of Hattiesburg.

— Leigh Berry, 48, of Columbia.

— Ronald Doleac, 62, of Hattiesburg.

— Deborah Gambrell, 59, of Hattiesburg.

— Alex Ignatiev, 34, of Hattiesburg.

— Maura McLaughlin, 57, of Hattiesburg.

— Chad Shook, 38, of Hattiesburg.

— Sheila Havard Smallwood, 43, of Petal.

Voters can cast a write-in ballot for whomever they wish.

According to the secretary of state’s office, a voter will choose “Write-In” on the electronic machine, a touch pad will prompt the voter to type the name of a candidate. On affidavit or absentee ballots, a voter will use pencil and paper for the write-in portion.

If no candidate receives the majority of the vote, a runoff will be held Nov. 23 between the top two vote-getters.