Our View: Dark horses move to front of the pack

August 25, 2011 1:09:00 PM



Locally, the primary election cycle has been as predictable as local elections can be. 


But there were exceptions. 


In the Lowndes County school superintendent''s race, a seemingly dark-horse candidate trounced a central office insider. 


In Oktibbeha County, longtime Sheriff Dolph Bryan was ousted in the primary runoff. 


Embroiled in controversy over a riding lawnmower, Lynn Wright seems to have ridden that mower straight to the general election. 


When controversial New Hope baseball coach Stacy Hester was fired in 2007 over the improper purchase of a $15,000 lawnmower, Wright took a bullet, too, getting fired for signing off on the purchase. 


Both men are in the midst of lawsuits with the Lowndes County School District, alleging they were wrongfully terminated due to a personal vendetta, involving Lowndes County Superintendent Mike Halford, former school board President Dr. Robert Buckley and their spouses. 


Many in the New Hope community feel both Wright and Hester were treated unfairly, and the election seems to have provided an opportunity for reprisal. On top of that, Wright is personable, friendly and, as principal of New Hope High School, was a known entity.  


Wright''s overwhelming support in New Hope was evidenced by the poll results. His Republican opponent Edna McGill, assistant superintendent for Lowndes County schools, was close until the New Hope box came in. 


Wright faces independents Rusty Greene and Roger Hill and Democrat Cliff Reynolds in the November election. If he can maintain the fervor he apparently has with New Hope voters, Wright very well may be the next superintendent. 


As for Bryan, why he was voted out after nearly 36 years as sheriff isn''t clear.  


It''s been a quiet three decades at the sheriff''s department, with no controversy or major complaints. Sheriff''s cruisers boast that Bryan, a Democrat, has been in office since 1976. One would have thought his post was secure until he decided to call it quits. 


Steve Gladney, a retired state trooper who beat Bryan in Tuesday''s primary runoff, will face Golden Triangle Development and Planning District Executive Director Rudy Johnson, who was unopposed in the Republican primary.  


That should be an interesting race. 


Gladney attributed his win to making contacts over the years, both through the Mississippi Highway Patrol and traveling the state as security for Mississippi State. 


For now, the candidates still standing can take a breather. Soon enough, campaigning will begin anew for the run-up to November.