Wilkinson County ballot changes again

Published 10:45 pm Friday, November 2, 2007

NATCHEZ — Wilkinson County won’t have the three contested races on Tuesday’s ballot, after all.

The Mississippi Supreme Court made the ruling Friday after a circuit judge put three contested county candidates on Tuesday’s general election ballot Thursday.

Friday, the Supreme Court reversed that, ordering that no candidates for the supervisor District 2, circuit clerk or sheriff race would be on the ballot Tuesday.

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Instead, the circuit court will address the contested primary at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

The Supreme Court order requires the circuit court should rule on the contested primary. Then, they should set a special election for the three races. The special election date must not be later than 90 days after the circuit court’s decision on the primaries.

Attorneys for the three contesting candidates — those the circuit court ruled Thursday not to put on the ballot — filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court Thursday.

“We felt there were issues of law which needed to be addressed regarding who would appear on the ballot,” said Deborah McDonald, a Natchez attorney representing circuit clerk incumbent Mon Cree Allen.

The remaining 20 races on the ballot will be decided at Tuesday’s general election.

Harold Pizzetta, representing the attorney general’s and secretary of state’s offices, said the order gives the circuit court more time to hear the case.

“We’re glad this order will lend some clarity to the issue,” Pizzetta said. “It should be the last judicial order before the election. It should allow Wilkinson County election officials time to conduct the election.”

After the Wilkinson County primary election, the three non-incumbent candidates appeared before a simple majority of the Wilkinson County Democratic Executive Committee. It was decided all paper ballots should be thrown out because of allegations of widespread fraud. An attorney general’s opinion later supported that action.