November 29, 2017 11:12:04 AM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
Oktibbeha County voters finalized two elections Tuesday in selecting the county's new circuit and chancery clerks.
Tony Rook won the circuit clerk position, based on Tuesday's special election runoff results, which include walk-in votes and absentee ballots. Rook got 2,955 votes, or 51.01 percent of the vote. His opponent, Teresa Davis, earned 2,836 votes, or 48.96 percent.
Officials will review 38 affidavit ballots in the morning.
Rook, who currently serves as Starkville's municipal court administrator, will replace former clerk Glenn Hamilton who resigned earlier this year after pleading guilty to a drug charge.
Once Rook takes office, he said his primary goal will be to fortify public confidence in the circuit clerk's office.
"I want to earn the public confidence in me and in this office and I want to maintain that confidence," Rook said. "I'm going to do that through integrity and my character."
Sharon Livingston won the permanent chancery clerk position over Martesa Bishop Flowers in Tuesday's only other election. Livingston received 3,148 votes, or 54.6 percent. Flowers got 2,616, or 45.37 percent.
Livingston has served as interim chancery clerk since October 2016, after former clerk Monica Banks died after an extended illness.
She said she'll keep things moving smoothly for now but hopes to start making some upgrades to the office next year.
"There are a lot of things that I do want to upgrade," she said. "That's going to be our first task, probably to try to get in and do stuff like that after the first of the year."
Both Rook and Livingston earned spots in their respective runoffs through crowded fields of candidates on Nov. 7. Both will serve the unexpired terms of their predecessors, which run through 2019.
Interim Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis said she was pleased with the election. She said everything went relatively smoothly, save a few people going to the wrong precinct or thinking they were registered to vote when they were not.
However, she said she was disappointed with the turnout. Of the roughly 27,000 registered voters in Oktibbeha County, only 5,866 (21.79 percent) cast ballots in Tuesday's runoff elections.
Circuit clerk transition
It's unclear when Rook will take office. He said it will likely be worked out in the coming days.
"There's a good chance I may wait until January because Angie is on contract through the end of December," Rook said. "I have many obligations, and I don't want to leave the city high and dry. I'm very loyal to the city because I've been working there for over 20 years."
McGinnis, likewise, said she may stay on through the end of the year. She said she's open to helping Rook transition from his work with the city to working for the county.
"If he wants me to stick around for a while and help him in any way in accordance with the (board of supervisors') order on me anyway, then I'll certainly do that," she said.
Mayor Lynn Spruill said the city will evaluate how to handle the transition in the coming days. She said Rook has prepared the court workers, especially court clerk Shalonda Sykes, to handle the transition should he leave for the circuit office.
She further noted the city may not appoint another municipal court administrator. She said the position was created some time ago, and not every city has or needs a court administrator.
"I'm not sure at this point what our plans are for that specific role," she said. "That's something that was done a number of years ago, and we may be evaluating that position itself. We don't want to give an expectation that the role may necessarily be filled."
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