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Culpepper wins District 2 race; Beam wins judgeship

Interim District Two Supervisor Joyce Culpepper won the runoff election on Tuesday to fill the remaining term of her late husband, Charles Culpepper, who died in office Nov. 24, 2009, exactly one year ago today.

 Culpepper has served as interim supervisor since her husband’s death. She was appointed on Dec. 2 by supervisors until a special election could be held to fill the remainder of her husband’s term, which actually ends on Dec. 31, 2011.

On Tuesday, Culpepper garnered 800 votes, or 52.02 percent of votes cast, to Daryl Smith’s 741, or 47.92 percent.

Said Culpepper shortly after the votes were announced, “I just want to thank the voters for having such confidence in me. I intend to do the best job that I can for the rest of Charles’ term.”

Culpepper lives in Ford’s Creek community. She said she chose to run in order to serve out the remainder of her late husband’s term. She has not said whether or not she will seek re-election in her own right next year.

There were a few gasps and then applause as Circuit Court Clerk Vickie Hariel read out the results to a medium-sized crowd gathered in the Old Courthouse courtroom.

Said Smith, “I am very disappointed, because I worked so hard. I will rest a little bit and start again in January.”

Polls closed at 7 p.m. and it took to about 9:30 p.m. to finish up tabulation of votes.

Smith is a City of Picayune department supervisor, and he ran before in a runoff against Charles Culpepper in 2007. Tuesday’s race was Joyce Culpepper’s first political campaign.

Both candidates, before the votes were counted, expressed fears over a low turnout. Election officials said only 6.75 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the two runoff elections on Tuesday.

Casting ballots were 2,292 voters. Registered are 33,965. That’s less than 10 percent, which is considered a very low turnout by election officials. There are nine voting precincts in District Two and 33 in the whole county.

In the only other race on the ballot, voters in the District 10, Place 2, Chancery Court Judgeship race, named Dawn H. Beam as chancery judge. The Sumrall attorney garnered 7,093 votes to Marion County attorney Scott Phillips’ 5,883, district wide. The district is composed of Lamar, Forrest, Marion, Pearl River and Perry counties.

Beam carried Pearl River County, getting 1,352 votes, or 61.3 percent of votes cast, to Phillips 840 or 38.1 percent.

Said Beam from her home in Sumrall: “My family and I are thankful to those supporting us and for believing in our campaign and working so hard for this win. We are humbled.”

All returns are unofficial.

Beam and Phillips met in Tuesday’s runoff after eliminating Pearl River County native and county attorney Aaron Russell, Jr., in the Nov. 2 election.

In the race for supervisor, only voters in District Two cast ballots. Culpepper and Smith entered the runoff on Tuesday after an eight-man field was on Nov. 2 pared down to the top two vote-getters.

District Two takes up almost the entire western part of Pearl River County.