Some Mississippi towns forced to have special elections after few people run for office

Published 6:15 am Monday, June 7, 2021

Election season will be extended for some small towns in Mississippi because too few people signed up to run for office.

The regular election is Tuesday for many Mississippi cities and towns. Those with too few candidates on the ballot will have to set special elections.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that Jumpertown, Smithville and Thaxton only saw three people sign up to run for five at-large alderman positions. In Hatley, no one qualified for one of the alderman positions.

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Most small towns across the region try to draw just enough candidates to fill all open positions, allowing them to avoid the expense of an election. When someone retires or moves, officials usually recruit one person to fill the job.

Jumpertown, Smithville and Thaxton encountered problems this year when their mayors decided not to run for reelection and sitting aldermen decided to qualify for mayor. The last time Jumpertown faced a shortage, Mayor Coy Perrigo recruited candidates.

“It is aggravating for sure. It’s an ongoing problem,” Perrigo said. “We don’t have a lot of citizens who actually live in town.”

In Smithville, two aldermen are running to fill the seat of Mayor Earl Wayne Cowley. Two other incumbents are retiring after serving a combined 28 years on the board. Those decisions leave four open slots.

In Thaxton, the death of longtime mayor Johnny Coleman and the retirement of two aldermen caused similar problems.

“We’ll have to go through the process of scheduling a special election,” said Thaxton Town Clerk Sammie Jaggers. “If we just have two people qualify for the two open positions, we won’t have to go through the expense of holding an actual election.”