Only two county races contested in Nov. 6 voting

Published 11:33 am Saturday, October 27, 2012

It’s nine days to what some political pundits are calling the most important election in American history, an election that will decide which path America takes.

There are only two races on the local county level that are contested, one for election commissioner and the other for a constable post.

The six sets of candidates on the presidential section of the Nov. 6 ballot offer voters a wide range of parties, as do races for the U.S. Senate, a State Supreme Court justice spot, and for the fourth district congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Biloxi.

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Pearl River County Circuit Court Clerk Vicki Hariel said her offices will be open to noon on Saturday (today) and Saturday, Nov. 3, at both Picayune’s Chimney Square and the Courthouse in Poplarville to receive absentee ballots from voters who can’t make it to the Tuesday, Nov. 6 General Election.

Also, said Hariel, offices will be open all week, the last week before the Nov. 6 election, and clerks will be accepting absentee balloting all week during regular hours, 8 a.m.-to-5 p.m., at both locations. The last chance to cast an absentee ballot is noon Saturday, Nov. 3.

There is a sample ballot inside today’s Picayune Item on page 8A, and on Saturday, Nov. 3, a sample ballot will be printed again, along with a story on the election, highlighting the full choices the ballot offers voters.

The two contested elections on the local level are for Election Commissioner 2, District 2, and for the race for constable, South East District.

In the constable’s race, former Constable Ray Merle Bennett faces Constable Justin Faia, who was appointed by supervisors to the post earlier this year, until a special election could be held, when Constable Danny Lowery resigned, after winning the seat last November.

Lowery resigned because of a conflict with two businesses he owns. Lowery owns a wrecker service and a bonding company.

The South East spot is one of three elected constable posts in Pearl River County.

A constable serves as the bailiff for the Justice Court and is an officer of the court, serving court summonses and subpoenas. The constable is also a law enforcement officer with full law enforcement powers. All constables are sworn in as deputy sheriffs.

The Nov. 6 election is a special election for constable to fill Lowery’s unexpired term.

Bennett served 12 years as Constable of the South East District, before resigning last year to run unsuccessfully for a justice court judge’s position. He now is seeking to return to his old post. Bennett touts his 30 years of law enforcement experience in his recent announcement for the post. Bennett is a native of Nicholson Community.

Constable Justin Faia touts his extensive law enforcement experience. He is certified in 10 areas, worked as a former Pearl River County deputy sheriff and as a Picayune Police Department officer, and is a K-9 certified handler and trainer. He says he is also a trained and certified DUI officer. He’s a native of Picayune, and has been in law enforcement for seven years.

In the election commissioner’s District 2 race, challenger Brenda Nirenberg, a Democrat, is attempting to unseat incumbent Margaret Woodson, a Republican.

The other three election commissioner posts in Districts 1, 3, 4 and 5 are unopposed. One commissioner from each supervisor’s district makes up the five-member commission that manages the county election process. On the ballot for District 1 post is Virgie Hart Bolton, District 3 Tommy Breland, District 4 Reggie W. Hanberry and District 5 Harold J. Blappert, Jr.

Woodson has been the incumbent District 2 commissioner for 13 years. She’s a former head of the county Republican Party, former chairman of the commission, and former director of the state Election Commission Association. “It has always been my intention and first priority to see that elections are handled accurately with integrity and fairness to all,” she said in her announcement.

Nirenberg has pointed to her 28 years experience in the nursing profession as a reason to elect her. She is a former president of the Poplarville Friends of the Library and a leader in a number of civic organizations in Poplarville. “I care deeply for this community,” she said in her announcement, “and have been actively involved in serving it. . .”