All New Albany incumbents win their primaries but some still face opponents in June

City employees Megan Kirk and Eric Thomas prepare to scan absentee ballots. At rear, Municipal Clerk confers with election commissioner Michael Beam.

Incumbent Tim Kent is the Republican nominee for the office of Mayor of New Albany and will go on to face Democrat James Dean in the June 8 general election. All the incumbents running won their respective primaries and no runoffs will be needed despite the number of candidates for some offices.

Kent defeated former New Albany school superintendent Chuck Garrett with 592 votes to 514 in a race that saw some heavy campaigning and drew about 34 percent of the 4,601 registered voters.

Two hundred and thirty-seven people cast ballots in the Democratic primary while 1,026 participated in the Republican primary (based on the mayor race).

Only two races were settled Tuesday: Ward Three Alderman and Ward Four Alderman.

In Ward Three, incumbent Kevin Dale White received 101 votes to challenger Penney Blissett’s 56. Both ran as Democrats and there is no Republican candidate, making White the default winner in the general election June 8.

There were three candidates for Ward Four alderman, all Republicans.

Incumbent Will Tucker retained his seat with 236 votes compared to Diane Jones’ 33 votes and Ronnie Parker’s 199 votes.

Tucker avoided going into a runoff with Parker by only a majority of four votes.

If no candidate had won a majority, the two with most votes would have been in an April 27 runoff.

Incumbent Tucker will be the default Ward Four alderman because there is no Democratic challenger.

Besides the mayor’s race, the contests for Ward One and Ward Two aldermen probably drew the most interest because those seats are vacant.

First term Alderwoman Amy Livingston did not seek re-election in Ward One and long-time Ward Two Alderman Johnny Anderson decided to retire.

Each of those two races drew three Republican hopefuls while only one Democrat sought the Ward One seat and two Democrats vied for the Ward Two position.

In Ward One, Ashley Kidd will be the Republican nominee with 142 votes. Mark Bishop received 60 and Judith Foley received 63.

Kidd will face Democrat Jessica Winston and Independent candidate Parks Smith June 8 in the Ward One race.

In Ward Two, Drew Horn will be the Republican nominee receiving 165 votes. Jim Gann got 17 and Adam Hardy got 76.

On the Democratic side, Tim Johnson is the nominee for Ward Two, with 34 votes compared to Gary Edwards’ 24 votes.

Horn and Johnson will face each other June 8.

The race to serve as alderman-at-large had only two Republican candidates and no Democratic candidate. Incumbent Keith Conlee with 937 votes defeated Jeff Knox who received 133 votes. Conlee will face Independent J. Lynn West June 8.

All the totals mentioned include machine, absentee and affidavit votes.

The only uncontested race was for police chief. Incumbent Chris Robertson was unopposed for the office.

Three Republican runoffs were possible in that three races had three candidates each. In the event of a runoff, anyone who voted April 6 would have been required to vote only in the same party’s runoff because Mississippi does not allow crossover voting.

The June 8 general election will be a mix of Democratic, Republican and Independent candidates, however, with voters able to choose any combination they wish.

This year the New Albany municipal elections were moved to the renovated community center on Wilson Street. The change of venue afforded much more space and avoided traffic problems with residents who needed to use county courthouse services.

It was thought that lack of parking around the community center might be a problem but voters were able to move in and out fairly quickly most of the day and it was rare for anyone to have to park more than half a block away. Most voters chose to park on Wilson Street if they could, however.

Voting went smoothly other than that some people did not understand the primary process. They chose one ballot and then realized a candidate they wanted to vote for was on the other ballot despite having the difference explained. As long as they had not formally cast their vote they were allowed to back out and start over, although this meant extra work for election holders.

Reportedly a few voters got upset and left because they could not vote for a candidate they wanted to support. That was because they did not live in the ward the candidate was running for and apparently mistakenly saw voting for someone in their ward as a vote against the person they preferred.

For this election the city used software on a trial basis that printed absentee ballots on demand rather than having them commercially printed at considerable cost and possible inconvenience. Election officials reported no problems in scanning the printed absentee ballots.

Since no runoff will be needed, the next time New Albany voters go to the polls will be June 8 for the general election.

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