Circuit clerk race ends in landslide

Published 12:50 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

NATCHEZ — After years of questionable audit findings, an indictment and a guilty plea to embezzlement charges, Adams County residents voted Circuit Clerk M.L. “Binkey” Vines out of office and voted Eddie Walker in Tuesday.

Vines lost by more than 2,000 votes in Tuesday’s runoff before absentee votes were counted.

And Walker stood a little taller as the results showed him with 63.78 percent of the vote, or 4,986 votes.

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“I’m about 9 feet tall right now,” Walker said. “I’m literally taken aback. I’d have been proud to get 51 or 52 percent. But for people to speak like this, I’m overwhelmed by it.”

Vines received 2,826 votes or 36.15 percent.

Vines was indicted in September on charges of 13 counts of embezzlement, stemming from audit findings from October 2002 to August 2004.

Vines pleaded guilty to three counts in May, and the other 10 counts were dropped.

The judge withheld accepting Vines’ plea, allowing him to remain in office and run for re-election.

In the Democratic primaries, Vines and his three opponents each took roughly 25 percent of the vote. Vines and Walker went on to Tuesday’s runoff.

Walker said he plans to have the state auditors audit the circuit clerk’s office before or soon after he becomes clerk.

He also plans to complete an inventory of all the equipment in the office.

“I want to know exactly where the office stands,” Walker said. “The people need to know. I want to make sure everything’s accounted for.”

Walker said he learned from his weeks of campaigning.

“It was enjoyable, meeting people and one-on-one interaction with people,” Walker said. “The problem of getting from point A to point B can be very tiring.”

Vines said he thought the race was well run and he enjoyed it.

“I appreciate the clean races and the fact that there was no mudslinging,” Vines said. “I feel very blessed to have spent eight years in this office.”

Vines said he was looking forward to working with Walker in the near future.

“We’ll start with the November election,” Vines said. “That will let him get his feet wet and help him get moving.”

Walker said he will go to circuit clerk school and talk to other area clerks who would be able to answer some of his questions about the office.

He said he wanted to thank everyone who helped him in his campaign and the voters.

“The people of Adams County have spoken loud and clear,” Walker said. “They’re ready for a change, ready for something to be done. I am delighted to have the opportunity to prove myself to them.”

Vershal Hogan contributed to this article.