TUPELO • John Caldwell and Geoffrey Yoste will compete in a runoff election for the Republican nomination for the Northern District Transportation Commissioner after no single candidate received a majority of the votes cast in a crowded five-person Republican primary race on Tuesday night.
Caldwell, a former Desoto County Supervisor, received 33% of the vote as of 11:45 p.m. Tuesday. He has campaigned on the idea of building better roads and bridges to expand economic activity in the state.
“We’re just proud to be in the conversation at this point, so we can make these next three weeks happen,” Caldwell told the Daily Journal by phone. “We’ve got to get the most votes. We had a broad field with some good people in the race and some supporters that believed in them. Our challenge is to reach out and let them know us a little better.”
Caldwell has told citizens at various campaign stops in Northeast Mississippi over the course of his campaign that talks about raising taxes are premature. He believes North Mississippi isn’t getting its fair share of projects out of the transportation department, and it wouldn’t make sense for North Mississippi citizens to pay more in taxes and still not get its fair share of infrastructure projects.
Yoste, a defense contractor and a retired officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from Lafayette County, captured 26% of the vote as of 11:45 p.m. Tuesday. He has campaigned on improving the state’s infrastructure, but said he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for the transportation commissioner to try and legislate the policy for funding the transportation department.
Yoste told the Daily Journal by phone Tuesday night he was excited about the race, especially considering he was in a runoff with Caldwell, who has previously run for transportation commissioner.
“It’s kind of like Friday night football,” Yoste said. It’s just overtime. We’re looking forward to the next three weeks. We’ve got a lot of energy about us, and a lot of folks that are supporting us, and we’re going to make more friends.”
Yoste has advocated for widening Highway 15 which runs from Pontotoc to the Tennessee state line into a four-lane highway in hopes of bringing industry to the area.
Caldwell and Yoste defeated businessman Trey Bowman, Assistant Secretary of State Jeremy Martin and E.A. Hathcock in the race.
The race comes at a time when approximately 411 bridges have been posted with weight limits and when 65 bridges have been closed in Northeast Mississippi.
The winner of the runoff election will face former state Rep. Joe Grist, the lone Democrat in the race, on Nov. 5. Grist has campaigned on improving the state’s roads and bridges and advocating for putting a freeze on the state government giving tax exemptions to companies to offset the cost of infrastructure improvements.