TUPELO • Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington on Saturday officially qualified to run for mayor of Tupelo in the Republican primary, making him the first candidate to officially enter the mayoral race.

Whittington, 71, has served on the Tupelo City Council for 12 years. He is the owner of an office furniture supply store and a storage unit facility in town. He told the Daily Journal in November that he intends to campaign on good stewardship of city’s finances, continuing Tupelo’s economic growth and strengthening relationships with different economic development groups.

“It is the Tupelo spirit that makes this community so special. We work, worship and play in a safe and happy environment,” Whittington previously said. “I want to build on that spirit to create greater opportunities for every citizen in Tupelo.”

Whittington, a native of Braxton, Mississippi, said he decided to run for mayor after believing his experience on the council makes him well-suited for the job.

Whittington graduated from Mississippi College in Clinton with a degree in business administration, but became connected to Tupelo in 1969 when he started working at McRae’s department store. Through working at the store, he transferred to different cities in Mississippi, but eventually settled in Tupelo in 1979 after purchasing an office supply store.

Incumbent Mayor Jason Shelton announced last year that he does not intend to seek reelection to a third term, which means that no incumbent will be on the ballot for the mayoral election.

Todd Jordan, a Lee County supervisor, has also publicly stated that he intends to run for mayor. Jordan told the Daily Journal last week that he intends to officially qualify on either Monday or Tuesday. Jordan’s official entrance into the race would set up a contested Republican primary.

The qualifying period for Tupelo candidates will end on Feb. 5. Primary elections for municipal elections will occur on April 6, with a potential runoff taking place on April 27. The general election will occur on June 8.

Email: taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @TaylorVanceDJ

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