Justice court judge race too close to call; absentee votes could make difference

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2017


NATCHEZ — Though Eileen Mary Maher was leading by 11 votes Tuesday night in the justice court judge runoff election, officials say the count is too close to make a definitive call.

Adams County Circuit Clerk Eddie Walker said this was the closest race he has seen so far, and that the 45 absentee votes that have yet to be counted could make all the difference in deciding the next Southern District Justice Court Judge.

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Maher received 50.34 percent of the results, a total of 824 votes, whereas candidate Danny Barber got 49.66 percent, or 813 votes.

“This is neck and neck,” Walker said. “Absentees will make the difference.”

If neither candidate contests the final county, official voter counts will be ready Thursday, Walker said, when the resolution board finalizes results.

Both Maher and Barber expressed some dismay in the lengthy election process.

“I’m not happy it’ll take so long to resolve,” Maher said. “I don’t think that’s reasonable.”

Results were close across the board, with some districts being decided as few as one vote.

In the Kingston Precinct, Barber won with 67 votes, while Maher came in just behind with 66.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘I’m just one vote. My vote doesn’t count,’” Walker said. “Well, if you look at the results, your vote does count.”

Maher said she knocked on approximately 100 doors in the Kingston area Monday as a last-minute campaign effort, and that she feels the work paid off.

A total of 1,637 people voted in Tuesday’s election.

The percentage of each district turning out to vote is hard to gauge, Walker said, because the election was not county-wide.

Only nine precincts were polled for the election because the judge will serve in the Southern district.

No write-in candidates were reported in any of the precincts.

Barber, who previously served as a justice court judge for 12 years, said he will be happy to see the end of the race no matter who wins.

“I knew it would be close,” Barber said. “If I win, I win. If she wins, she wins. She’s a good lady and worked hard. That’s all anybody can ask for.”

Maher, a defense attorney and certified psychiatric mental health nurse, said she only decided to run for justice court judge a few months ago.

The runoff comes after a five-candidate race in the Nov. 7 general election, where the number of candidates was narrowed down to two.

“We both ran a good race,” Barber said. “This is just how democracy works.”