November 5, 2011 10:27:00 PM
On Tuesday voters will decide the fates of a small group of men and women, most of whom have labored unceasingly for months. It's a hiring decision. For those new to the game who are chosen, we warn you: Your life will change in unimaginable ways. For the old hands, the incumbents going back in, you already know what awaits.
A long, trying political season is coming to an end.
In Lowndes there is keen interest in the District 5 supervisor's race. As publisher of The Columbus Packet, Roger Larsen was an unyielding thorn in the side of Leroy Brooks, rebuking the longtime incumbent for his tirades, calling into question the good-old-boy system that ruled the day in the pre-Harry Sanders era. With his publication, Larsen was a distinct and influential voice in local politics. Now that he has shed The Packet, Larsen must depend on voters for empowerment. Will they do so in numbers sufficient to oust Brooks?
The race for superintendent for the Lowndes County Schools has been full of drama and vivid characters like Edna McGill, Stacy Hester (in a supporting role) and much of the New Hope community. The three men left standing come from each of the three schools in the district. Rusty Greene, now athletic director for Columbus city schools, was a coach, teacher and administrator in Caledonia; Cliff Reynolds is principal of West Lowndes and Lynn Wright was principal of New Hope. The winner of this race will oversee an operation with a $50 million-plus budget, more than 700 employees and the responsibility of educating more than 5,000 students.
Lowndes Sheriff Butch Howard's decision to retire brought forth a covey of candidates for the job. Juvenile Detention Center Director Anthony Nelson was dispatched by Selvain McQueen in the primary, but when McQueen left the field to focus on the interim police chief job he now holds, Nelson was resurrected as the Democratic nominee. In the primaries, Mike Arledge fended off three challengers, including Bo Harris, in a lively run-off race.
Democrat Forrest Allgood faces a challenge from Republican Steve Wallace for the Dist. 16 D.A.'s job, a position Allgood has held for more than 30 years. A close call in the primary from non-candidate Bill Bamback suggests Allgood is vulnerable. We would have liked to have seen more of Wallace on the campaign trail. He's taken a pass on most of the candidate forums, and he didn't respond to a candidate survey conducted by this newspaper. Perhaps the affable Wallace believes anti-Allgood sentiment is enough.
In Oktibbeha, three key office holders with 70 years of combined experience will be going home. Sheriff Dolph Bryan lost in the primaries to retired state trooper Steve Gladney. County Tax Assessor/Collector Pat Kight and Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis are retiring.
Of special interest is the sheriff's race, where Golden Triangle Planning and Development District head Rudy Johnson is facing Gladney. It's the law enforcement veteran vs. the rainmaker. As GTPDD director, Johnson has done a masterful job raising money through grants for his agency. He says he'll bring his Midas touch to the sheriff's department. Gladney, a trooper for 30 years, is a seasoned law enforcement professional who ran an impressive campaign in his ouster of longtime incumbent Bryan. Johnson was an auxiliary deputy with the department for 16 years.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. The candidates have worked hard. Now it's time for voters to do their part. See you at the polls.