May 7, 2013 10:24:47 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Today's Starkville municipal primaries will shape city governance for the next four years.
Will key board of aldermen swing votes be replaced by more-partisan representatives? Can incumbent Mayor Parker Wiseman stave off a seasoned challenger, former alderman Mary Lee Beal, a fractured Democratic Party and Republicans looking to inflict a political price for the city's facilities plans by breaking ranks and voting in the opposing party's primary? How will redistricting - and any associated confusion - affect today's races?
Voters will answer those questions today. Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m.
Today's election is the first using redrawn ward maps brought about by the 2010 census. Polling locations are as follows: Ward 1: the National Guard Armory located at the intersection of Miss. Highway 12 and Industrial Park Drive; Wards 2 and 3: the Starkville Sportsplex Administration Building, 405 Lynn Lane; Ward 4: City Hall Courtroom, 101 East Lampkin St.; Ward 5: Fire Station No. 3, located at the intersection Miss. Highway 389 and Garrard Road; Ward 6: Mt. Pelier Missionary Baptist Church, 840 N. Jackson St.; Ward 7: the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex, 108 W. Main St.
Since redistricting, some Starkville residents might have received erroneous voter information cards, city officials confirmed Monday. Starkville City Clerk Taylor Adams said poll workers will help direct all voters Tuesday to their correct polling locations. Those voters may still have to cast affidavit ballots if their names are not on the updated voting rolls. Adams said the city will work through Wednesday to confirm all affidavits.
Prospective voters should view the updated Starkville ward map atcityofstarkville.org/DocumentCenter/View/1031 and confirm which ward they live in before heading to the polls.
Approximately 183 absentee ballots were cast before the city's Saturday deadline. Adams said those will be counted tonight along with the general returns.
Starkville voters will receive ward-specific ballots today, but those choosing to vote in the Democratic Primary will all have a chance to choose between Wiseman and Beal for that party's mayoral nominee. The winner of the race will face Republican Dan Moreland in the June 4 General Election.
All but one of Starkville's ward races are on the Democratic ticket as well. Two Republicans, Ward 1 incumbent Ben Carver and incoming Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard, sealed up their races after the March qualification deadline. No challengers emerged then, and both men are running unopposed.
Ward 3's Republican Primary features the highest-grossing race in terms of money raised on the campaign trail. Incumbent Eric Parker and challenger David Little raised a combined $5,323, campaign finance documents state. Little led Parker in both contributions -- $3,152 to $2,171 - and expenditures -- $2,598.37 to $1,870.
Parker works in construction, while Little serves as the Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance District Claims Office manager.
Both Wards 4 and 5 are guaranteed new representation after Democrats Richard Corey and Jeremiah Dumas previously announced they would not seek another term. Ward 5 will swing Republican since Maynard walked in unopposed, but Ward 4 will remain a seat held by Democrats.
Candidates John Gaskin and Jason Walker face each other today for the Ward 4 seat. Gaskin, who Parker defeated in the 2009 Ward 3 race, works as a financial analyst for Mossy Oak in West Point. Walker is a Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission member and a Mississippi State University associate professor of landscape architecture.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins faces his first challenge since assuming office today as political newcomer Lerin Pruitt looks to unseat the 20-year board member. If re-elected, Perkins, a lawyer, would sit on the board for an unprecedented sixth term. Pruitt is the son of Maben Mayor Larry Pruitt.
Ward 2's race became a primary-only battle after former Republican candidate Josiah Buckner dropped out of the election in April. Incumbent Sandra Sistrunk looks to hold her seat from challenger Lisa Wynn. Oktibbeha County Tax Assessor Allen Morgan defeated Wynn for his position in the 2011 county election cycle.
Two familiar Democratic foes battle again today for Ward 7's seat. In 2009, then-challenger Henry Vaughn defeated former alderman Janette Self for the right to represent their ward. Today, Self again challenges Vaughn for the seat.
Runoffs will not be held since each primary is a two-candidate race. Only today's mayoral race will progress to the June 4 General Election.
Follow @StarkDispatch today for election updates and live returns.
Starkville Voting precincts
National Guard Armory
Hwy 12 and Industrial
Wards 2 & 3
405 Lynn Lane
City Hall Courtroom
101 E. Lampkin St.
Fire Station No. 3
Hwy 389 and Garrard Rd.
Mt. Pelier Missionary
Baptist Church -
840 N. Jackson St.
108 W. Main St.
■ TWITTER: Follow @StarkDispatch throughout today's election for updates and returns.
■ WARD MAP: Prospective voters should view the updated Starkville ward map at cityofstarkville.org/DocumentCenter/View/1031 and confirm which ward they live in before heading to the polls.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch