By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – Yalobusha voters will head back to the polls next Tuesday, August 28, to determine who will serve as sheriff for the next four years. This race will be the only county position on the ballot in Yalobusha.
A second, statewide election will be the final race on the ballot. This race pits Mike Sumrall against Todd Brand for state auditor.
The field of candidates in the sheriff’s race was narrowed in the Democratic Primary Election, from six candidates to two – William “Lance” Humphreys and Jamie Caldwell.
Humphreys was appointed as sheriff pro tem last October by Circuit Court Judges Ann Lamar and Andrew Baker, after former Sheriff Steve Shuffield was unable to fulfill the duties.
A week later, following Shuffield’s resignation, supervisors appointed Humphreys to fill the remaining term – through December 31, 2007.
Caldwell, 49, is a retired state trooper, having over 26 years with the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol. He retired as Master Sergeant, supervising troopers in Yalobusha, Lafayette and Tallahatchie counties.
Caldwell cut his trooper career short, to run for sheriff.
Caldwell’s law enforcement background comes from his days working as a trooper, but he is quick to tell you that, if elected, he is not going to operate the sheriff’s department like the highway patrol.
“These departments have two different missions,” Caldwell says. “Yes, we are going to enforce the law, that is our job,” he adds.
“The biggest thing I want to do is get back to servicing the community,” Caldwell continues.
“When I was in the highway patrol, I would rather help someone change a flat than write a ticket.”
Caldwell also says that the sheriff’s department, under his leadership, will emphasize solving major crimes, while at the same time providing service to the community.
“I want to have the deputies involved in the community. I want them to get to know the people they are serving,” Caldwell explains.
Humphreys, 34, began his law enforcement career just days after turning 21, which is the minimum age to tote a gun and work in law enforcement.
He has spent his entire law enforcement career in Water Valley and Yalobusha County – serving a decade on the Water Valley Police Department.
Humphreys joined the sheriff’s department in 2003, as chief deputy.
“Since October, we have made a big difference in our county’s law enforcement,” Humphreys will tell you.
His list of accomplishments include setting up a drug-seized fund for use in under cover narcotics operations, and organizing the Yalobusha County Crime Stoppers. Humphreys also lays claim to stabilizing the county’s working relationship with other agencies throughout the county and state.
“This is my home county, this is where I was raised and this is where I want my family to grow up. I attended school here and I want my children to have a similar experience in a safe county.
Humphreys also credits his staff as a valuable asset to the county.
“Our deputies live and work in Yalobusha County, they know the area,” Humphreys said.
Both men are touting proactive law enforcement, and both are working feverishly in an attempt to get their supporters back to the polls – and to sway voters who voted for one of the other four candidates in the August 7 Democratic Primary.
This concern stems from a lower than expected turnout in the Primary, which just over 48 percent of the registered voters participating.
Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney is speculating that the possible voter turnout next Tuesday could be in the range of 35 percent of the registered voters.
“Although this ballot is not very big, it is extremely important for everybody to come out and vote,” Burney said.
In the primary, Humphreys was the top vote getter, receiving 39 percent of the vote, or 1,937 votes. Caldwell received 980 votes, or almost 20 percent.
Humphreys carried six of the 11 precincts, being the most dominate in the north end of the county. He and Wayne Burns each had 48 votes in Scobey, Beat Five, which was the most votes cast for any sheriff’s candidate in that precinct.
Caldwell carried the Sylva Rena precinct Beat 3, and the Oakland Precinct in Beat 4.
The third top vote-getter in the primary election, Johnny Sossaman, carried Vann’s Mill in Beat Five. Burns carried the Tillatoba box in Beat Five.