July 21, 2018 9:07:40 PM
There is no more prominent position in any town or city than the office of mayor. Yet whatever perks and benefits are associated with the office, the position is above all that of a public servant and those who perform the role best are those most dedicated to that idea.
On Friday, District Court Judge Barry Ford ruled that Lynn Spruill, elected in May 2017 by what was then a six-vote margin, had indeed won the election and was the rightful holder of the office of Starkville mayor.
There was nothing ambiguous in Ford's ruling.
"The court finds that there is not a scintilla of any evidence of fraud or wrongdoing that occurred in this election or voting process," the judge said, noting that he polled all six of election commissioners, asking them if they agreed with his ruling. All six affirmed his decision, Ford said.
The ruling came after a year-long challenge by Johnny Moore, whose lawsuit to overturn the results of that election presumably ended with Friday's ruling.
We say presumably because there is still one more avenue through which Moore may yet contest the outcome of the election. Moore's attorney, Will Starks, said he will meet with Moore to determine whether or not to appeal Ford's ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
We strongly urge Moore to resist that temptation.
Certainly, an election whose outcome was so narrowly decided warrants careful scrutiny, but Moore has had his day in court. He was allowed to call witnesses, provide testimony and challenge his opponent's case, all with the aid of legal counsel. His case was heard before an impartial judge (Ford is circuit court judge in District 1 which doesn't include Oktibbeha County.)
But the greatest argument to be made for accepting Friday's ruling goes back to the idea that serving as mayor is a position of public service.
There can be no doubt that the best way for Moore to serve now is to accept the court's ruling. Prolonging the dispute only impedes the progress of the current administration, which is already a year into its term.
The mayor's office is not held in perpetuity. In three years, Moore can run again and make his case to the voters. Continuing to contest the election will undermine his case among many voters, we suspect.
There's something to be said for being graceful in defeat.
That, too, can be considered an act of public service.