By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – Voters will return to the polls Tuesday in what is likely the next-to-last election in an extended saga to seat city leaders in Water Valley. Six candidates qualified for alderman-at-large and will run in a special, non-partisan election on Feb. 27 to fill the vacancy after two-term alderman-at-large Donald Gray was elected mayor in special election in January.
The field includes political newcomers, Hubert House, G.R. Orndorff, and Lorraine Turner. Candidates also include Taylor Trusty, who currently serves on the Water Valley School Board, and Terry Rockette and Herbie Rogers, both former mayoral candidates last May and again in the special election in December.
All six candidates seeking the alderman-at-large position go on the record in this week’s Herald (Page 12 and 13), weighing in on the city’s challenges, growing the businesses environment and citing qualifications for the job in a questionnaire sponsored by the Water Valley Business Alliance and the North Mississippi Herald.
One of the six candidates must receive a majority of the votes cast in the Feb. 27 special election or voters will return to the polls in a runoff on March 20 to choose between the two candidates who earn the most votes in the first round. The winner will fill the remainder of the four-year term that ends in June, 2021.
The lengthy election cycle got underway last summer after three new aldermen – Kagan Coughlin, Cinnamon Foster and Nicole Folson – upset incumbents to earn seats at the table. Alderman-at-large Donald Gray and Ward 2 Alderman Fred White both retained their seats after defeating opponents, as did former Mayor Larry Hart.
The new board was seated on July 3, marking a notable change in how city business was conducted after monthly meetings often extended to several hours as budgets, policies and city business were discussed in detail. Three months into the new term Hart announced that he would step down as Mayor, ending his lengthy service to the city that included over 20 years as mayor and four years as alderman.
Gray, who was elected to his third term at alderman-at-large last year, was the top vote-getter in a four-way race to replace Hart in a special election in December and subsequent run-off in January. Gray was seated as mayor on Jan. 18, and aldermen immediately set the special election date to fill the at-large position.
The polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the city’s four precincts (see map, page 13).
Absentee voting has already started and voters can cast their ballot early during normal business hours at city hall the remainder of the week and during extended hours from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.