PRIMARY ELECTION: Several key local races will be decided Tuesday
Published 9:28 am Saturday, August 5, 2023
NATCHEZ — Adams County voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to decide a number of positions on the ballot in county government.
Because of Mississippi’s closed primary system, only two Republicans are running in county races. They face no opposition and will move to the Nov. 8 general election, where they will face either an independent candidate or the winner in the Democratic primary.
On Tuesday, several county positions will be decided, including Adams County Chancery Clerk, District 1 Supervisor, District 5 Supervisor, Adams County Tax Assessor, and Adams County Attorney.
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The Adams County Chancery Clerk primary pits the incumbent against a former longtime county employee on the Democratic ticket.
Incumbent Brandi Lewis is seeking her third term, having been elected in 2015. She has worked as a licensed attorney for more than 20 years.
Challenger Angie King worked for more than 30 years in county and state government, most recently as county administrator in Adams County — a role she took on in October 2020 after working as the county’s comptroller. County supervisors voted not to renew King’s contract in January 2023, citing personnel and performance issues.
Lewis has been serving as interim county administrator, as well as chancery clerk, since January.
The winner of the chancery clerk race in the primary will face no opposition in the general election.
Key issues in the race for county supervisor include the recent renewal of a garbage collection contract with a newly-formed company which is made up of the same people who held the previous contract but sought bankruptcy protection to get out of the old contract.
The new contract, which was approved by a three-to-two vote, will cost taxpayers approximately $900,000 more in expenses and supervisors have yet to decide how to pay for it.
The issue has been a contentious one. Supervisor Kevin Wilson, who is running alone in the Republican primary, voted against the new garbage contract and has been outspoken about the significant rate increase it will cost county residents for garbage collection. Wilson will face Frances Ransom, who is running as an independent in the general election.
District 1 Supervisor Wes Middleton defeated 12-year supervisor Mike Lazarus in the 2019 election, and Lazarus wants his job back. The winner of this race in the primary will face no opposition in the general election.
Middleton also opposed the garbage contract and said he is concerned about how the increased fees will be paid. Middleton also has worked to find alternative ways to house inmates, rather than in the Adams County Jail, which most agree is a hazard to the safety of jail staff and inmates.
After a report critical of the jail’s condition was presented to the board of supervisors in March 2022, Middleton, who was president of the board of supervisors at the time, suggested and helped negotiate a contract with the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office to house Natchez inmates there. Since about October 2022, Adams County has used the Concordia Parish facility to house inmates when the jail was overcrowded or when inmates needed to be separated from other inmates. After a series of incidents at the jail recently, most Adams County inmates are now being housed in Concordia Parish.
That issue is not a new one. County boards of supervisors for the last 20 years, including the 12 years Lazarus served, have kicked the bucket on renovating or building a new jail.
District 5 Supervisor Warren Gaines faces challenges from fellow Democrats James Berry and Brad Dean. The winner of this seat in the primary faces no opposition in the general election.
The county prosecuting attorney position will also be decided in the Aug. 8 primary. Natchez attorney Lydia Roberta Blackmon is challenging incumbent county prosecuting attorney Anthony “Tony” Heidelberg. The winner will have no opponent in the general election.
And, the race for Constable of the Northern District, pitting Deselle Mody Davis against Fay Minor, will be decided on Aug. 8, as well.