Voters return to polls on Tuesday

Published 2:13 am Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pearl River County voters will trek to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots on local contests in a lively race for sheriff, and will also decide two seats on the board of supervisors in races in District One and District Four.

In addition, voters will also cast ballots in statewide races and regional races that were not decided in the primaries.

Also, in Pearl River County voters will see two contested races for the state legislature on the ballot, in House Districts 93 and 106. All other legislative races in the county have been decided.

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And in the race for governor, voters will decide between GOP candidate Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Democrat Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree. Pundits and prognosticators in Jackson say Bryant, a former state auditor, is a shoo-in, but anything can happen in the governor’s race.

DuPree is given credit for a solid job of governing Hattiesburg for the last 10 years, which has weathered the recession better than most U.S. cities. He is a former school board member and supervisor.

In Pearl River Co., Sheriff David Allison will be trying to win a second term in a race with his former Chief Deputy Sheriff Frank Vaccarella, who says he has 28 years of law enforcement experience, in a race that has become a debate over the sheriff’s budget, with Allison claiming he has saved taxpayers’ money and Vaccarella and his supporters claiming Allison has overspent. Allison, a prominent Picayune businessman, was first elected sheriff in November 2007.

In the supervisor races, all but two of the five posts were decided in the primaries. Up for a vote on Tuesday in District One is long-time supervisor and board president Anthony Hales, Sr., who is seeking an unprecedented fifth term, against Republican challenger Vernon Culpepper.

In District Four, GOP incumbent Supervisor J. Patrick Lee is seeking a second term after defeating Republican opposition in the primaries to move into the Nov. 8 General Election. He is facing Democrat political activist Frank N. Egger. Egger has been active in politics here for 30 years, but has never won elective office.

Egger is one of only about four Democrats who ran locally for public office on a ballot that was filled with Republicans.

An interesting race is in House District 106, where long-term GOP incumbent State Rep. Herb Frierson is squaring off against Libertarian candidate Donna Y. Knezevich. District 106 takes up most of Pearl River County. Both are from Poplarville.

The Libertarian Party is keeping tabs on Knezevich’s race, but locals give her little chance of unseating a strong incumbent like Frierson,  who has been a state legislator here for 20 years and has even been mentioned as a contender for the race for Speaker of the House if the Republicans take over the next House session.

One Libertarian Party official last week said that if Knezevich were to win, she would be the highest ranking Libertarian office holder in the nation.

Knezevich is a Tea Party activist, and she and her husband Joe have been active in politics here. Her husband ran for and lost a bid for supervisor.

And an interesting race for Pearl River Çounty, too, is in House District 93, where Republicans would love, and are trying hard, to unseat Democrat incumbent State Rep. Dirk D. Dedeaux.

Most don’t know that District 93 takes in a small part of southeastern Pearl River Co. and that Dedeaux is a member of Steep Hollow Baptist Church, and he and his family reside in Necaise Crossing.

He is a native of Picayune and has served in the House since 1996. He is chairman of the House Medicaid Committee.

His GOP opponent is John “Timmy” Ladner, and Ladner is expected to give Dedeaux his toughest challenge since being in the legislature.

The district is made up mainly of Hancock and Stone counties.

Other local challenged races are for Justice Court Judge, North District, where GOP incumbent Judge James Hal Breland faces Independent Don Lee.

In the Justice Court Judge, South East District, Donald Fail, Republican, faces Independent James L. “Jim” Gray.

For Constable, South West District, GOP incumbent Charles “Bogie” Stockstill, faces Democrat Reginald “Reggie” Smith.

There are also two Pearl River County school board seats up for grabs. In District One, Rodney J. Dyess is trying to unseat incumbent Sherwin L. Taylor, and in District Two challenger Bonnie Sanders Johnson is trying to unseat incumbent Jeremy Weir.

A regional race to watch is for Transportation Commissioner, Southern District. Picayune native and resident Larry Albritton, Democrat, is up against State Sen. Tom King of Petal.

Also on the ballot are three what are called Initiatives, on eminent domain, definition of a person and voter identification. They are actually amendments to the State Constitution.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Election officials said that if a prospective voter has any problem in voting, the voter can request an affidavit and vote on an affidavit ballot. The poll worker has to by law allow you to vote that way. Your ballot will later be checked, and if okay, will be counted.

For a sample ballot please turn to page 8A.