Upcoming Oktibbeha County Justice Court races flush with Democrats

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Election matchups for a variety of county-level seats began taking shape Monday as 21 candidates filed qualification paperwork to enter this year’s race. 

As of the end of business hours, a number of intra-Democratic Party races manifested, including primary challenges for all three of Oktibbeha County’s justice court seats, sheriff and a constable position. 

A rematch of 2011’s closest race — the District 3 showdown between incumbent Marvell Howard, a Democrat, and Republic Dennis “Denny” Daniels — will occur in November if no other challengers emerge.  

Howard secured a second term that year, defeating Daniels by three votes, while his Republican challenger previously staved off his GOP opposition, Benny L. Perkins, with a 404-172 margin in the Republican Primary. 

Both men have military ties. Howard served in the U.S. Army, while Daniels joined the Mississippi Army National Guard. 

The county’s top law enforcement officer, Sheriff Steve Gladney, faces an Aug. 4 primary against former Chief Deputy George Carrithers. Both men qualified as Democrats, while no Republican challengers emerged by the end of business Monday. 

Carrithers served as former Sheriff Dolph Bryan’s right-hand man for decades until Gladney defeated the former sheriff, who took office in 1976, by about 400 votes in the Democratic Party’s runoff election four years ago. 

Gladney would go on to win the 2011 General Election, defeating Republican Rudy Johnson. 

Seven Democrats, including three incumbents, also qualified for the county’s three justice court judge seats, adding more intrigue to the Aug. 4 Democratic Primary. 

Incumbent Judge William Anton “Tony” Boykin Jr. will face Gay Lynn Williams, a deputy court clerk, for the right to run as the party’s District 1 representative, while incumbent Judge James “Jim” Mills and local attorney C. Martin Haug will go head-to-head for District 3’s seat if no other Republicans qualify. 

A three-way race for District 2’s justice court judge seat also emerged, as incumbent Judge W. Bernard Crump will face challenges from Larnzy Carpenter, a former U.S. Marine with ties to county law enforcement, and Kennedy Neal, a longtime employee of OCH Regional Medical Center who served on the local airport board. 

Both Boykin and Crump ran unopposed in 2011, while Mills retained his seat in a three-way race, defeating Republican Buddy Johnston’s second-place showing by almost 400 votes. 

Two Democrats — incumbent Curtis Randle and challenger Andre Quinn — qualified for District 2 constable, while incumbents Shank Phelps and James Lindsey, filed papers to again run for their respective District 1 and District 3 seats. 

Phelps, a Republican, won his election four years ago by almost 800 votes against Democratic challenger Curtis White, Randle defeated Republican Tim Cook by almost 900 votes and Lindsey ran unopposed. 

Other incumbents who qualified Monday include: District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery, District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer, District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson, County Prosecutor Haley Brown, Tax Assessor Allen Morgan and Chancery Clerk Monica Banks. No challengers emerged against any of those incumbents. 

Circuit Clerk Glenn Hamilton confirmed to The Dispatch before qualification began that he would submit his papers, but his documents were not immediately available Monday. 

District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams is also expected to qualify at a later date for this year’s election. 

Other positions, including surveyor and coroner, are expected to draw forms from candidates in the coming weeks. 

The qualification window for this year’s primaries and general election closes 5 p.m. Feb. 27. All candidates must be qualified electors of the territory in which they are running and never have been convicted of bribery, perjury or other infamous crime.

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

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