UPDATE (10:30 a.m.): The final tallies for Lee County local and statewide election results were made official Wednesday morning.
Gubernatorial race: https://www.djournal.com/election/
TUPELO • In Lee County Tuesday night, a software glitch prevented election officials from releasing tabulated vote totals for the county, including statewide, regional and local races.
Circuit Clerk Camille Roberts Dulaney opted instead to read vote totals recorded by each ballot scanners in use at the county's 36 precincts. Most precincts have one scanner, but some have two.
Reading these totals provided raw vote totals that can be added together, but no countywide totals were available from the circuit clerk's office and were not expected until at least Wednesday at the earliest.
TUPELO • Supervisor Mike Smith looked poise to win a second term, according to incomplete vote totals from Lee County’s District 2.
The second supervisor’s district has six precincts, and as of press time Tuesday night, Lee County Circuit Clerk Camille Roberts Dulaney had read results from all six precincts though no printed tally was available from her office.
Results from all six precincts show that the Republican incumbent had 4,345 votes to Democrat C. Richard Cotton’s 1,290.
These numbers also do not contain any affidavit votes cast in the race.
Smith is a cattle farmer who is completing his first term of office in the political arena, and has promised that he will continue to support policies that bolster Lee County’s status as the economic hub of Northeast Mississippi.
“I want to continue to keep Lee County a leader and a great place to live,” Smith told the Daily Journal during the election.
Indeed, Smith’s campaign amounted to a more-of-the-same-message and had few policy proposals that he offered other than a commitment to infrastructure maintenance and a business friendly environment.
During his last term, Smith did advocate for the county to seek a consultant to study long festering problems at the Lee County jail, but little progress was every made and no consultant has been hired.
Smith could not immediately be reached for a comment Tuesday night. A glitch involving software used by the Circuit Clerk’s office dramatically slowed down vote tabulations.
Cotton, a freelance journalist and small businessman, was making his first foray into elected politics. He did serve for a time as the chairman of the Lee County Democratic Party.
Without directly criticizing his opponent, Cotton hinted that entered the race over a controversy earlier this year involving Smith. The District 2 incumbent tried to block the county’s only black supervisor from receiving county funds to cover the costs of attending a gathering of minority supervisors
Tupelo • Republican John Caldwell won the race for Northern District Transportation Commissioner on Tuesday, where he defeated Democrat Joe Grist in the state’s general election.
Caldwell, a former Desoto County supervisor, received 63.39% of the vote. He told the Daily Journal by phone on Tuesday night that he was humbled and grateful to the voters after winning the race.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Caldwell said. “It’s a matter of being ready to go full speed. We’re very encouraged by the people who have supported us.”
Caldwell’s victory comes at a pivotal time for the state when approximately 411 bridges have been posted with weight limits and 65 bridges have been closed in Northeast Mississippi and when the leaders of rural towns have said future access to quality infrastructure will be the economic lifeblood of their municipalities.
Caldwell has pledged to solve this problem by running a campaign centered around ensuring North Mississippi receives its fair share of infrastructure projects to foster economic activity in the northern part of the state. He said at campaign stops the Mississippi Department of Transportation should compile a list of potential road projects before determining whether the state should consider passing any kind of tax increase.
He defeated Grist, a former state legislator, who received 36.61% of the vote. Grist is from Tupelo.
Grist sought to run a campaign as a Democrat solely focused on infrastructure issues, but he was ultimately defeated. His campaign centered around already having litany of road projects he want to start implement if elected.
Grist also pushed for educating Mississippi companies on the state’s bidding process to try and keep more of the state’s tax dollars in the state.
The state’s transportation commission is comprised of three different elected commissioners, with each commissioner representing a different area of the state – southern, central and northern. The state’s transportation commission has oversight of the resources and operations of the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
The Transportation Commission’s Northern District stretches from from the western to eastern borders of the state, DeSoto to Tishomingo counties, and from Alcorn County in the north to Winston County in the south, 33 counties in all.
The race became an open seat when outgoing transportation commissioner Mike Tagert announced he was not seeking reelection.
Caldwell will be sworn in as transportation commissioner for the northern district in January 2019.