HOUSTON --The qualifying period for the 2021 municipal elections began Monday, Jan. 4, and will run through 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5.
The qualifying date is a month shorter than usual, since primaries have been moved up a month from previous years. As a result, candidates have only 25 business days to qualify.
The earlier primary date gives candidates two months to campaign before the primary election, and two months to campaign before the general election.
Party primaries will be Tuesday, April 6, and any runoff elections will be Tuesday April 27.
Runoffs are held when any candidate doesn’t receive 50 percent plus one of the votes cast.
The general election will be held Tuesday, June 8.
Houston voters will choose a mayor, aldermen in Wards 1 through 4 and the At-Large Ward, and the Town Marshal.
Voters in the Chickasaw municipalities of Houlka, Okolona, and Woodland also elect municipal officials this year.
Houlka will choose a mayor and five aldermen. There are no wards; the five candidates getting the highest number of votes are elected as aldermen. Aldermen appoint the Town Marshal.
Okolona will choose a mayor, six aldermen -- one for each ward -- a Town Marshal, and a school board member.
Woodland -- legally a village -- will choose a mayor and three aldermen. There are no wards, so all candidates qualify from the township.
Woodland was the first municipality in the state to take advantage of a new law reducing the size and cost of conducting city business. Woodland saw three aldermen and the mayor take the oath of office in June, 2017; the previous board had five aldermen.
In all three towns, if those qualifying to run for office have no opposition, no election will be held.
Newly elected, or re-elected officeholders take office Thursday, July 1.
Those who qualify will be sworn in before the first Tuesday board meeting in July.
Municipal officials serve four years.
To qualify for municipal office, a candidate must be a registered voter of the municipality and ward they represent. Candidates may not have been convicted of a federal crime or certain Mississippi crimes defined as punishable by incarceration in a state penitentiary, unless they have received a full pardon. They also may not be convicted of a crime in another state that is considered a felony under Mississippi law.
Candidates cannot have been legally declared mentally incompetent.
Candidates who declare with a political party are required to pay a $10 application fee with the city clerk of the city hall or town hall of the municipality in which they’re running. Deadline for payment is Friday, Feb. 5, at 5 p.m. Those persons will run in the April primary and any run-off.
Candidates who run as independents do not pay a fee but must get a qualifying petition from city hall or town hall from the municipality they’re running in. They must get at least 50 signatures of qualified electors from the municipality or ward in which the person is seeking office, if it contains more than 1,000 residents.
If the ward or municipality has less than 1,000 residents, only 15 signatures are required.
The petition has to be filed with a Qualifying Statement of Intent for an Independent Candidate by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, with the municipal clerk.
Those running as independents only run in the June general election.
Questions or concerns about voting issues, policy and procedure for any election should be directed to the Secretary of State’s office at (601) 359-1350.
Questions or concerns about candidate qualifications, ethics and conduct while in office should be directed to the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division at (601) 359-4258.