Voters will decide Sheriff and other top Union County offices Tuesday

October 30th, 2015     Government & Politics

Voters in Union County and throughout Mississippi will vote Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, to choose candidates to fill most state and county office for the next four years.

This article is only about elections for Union County offices and only for those positions in which there are contests. gave all candidates in competitive races the opportunity to furnish material for this article. All candidates received at least two notices and were told the deadlines for submission. We have published their responses in the same order as they were received. Candidates paid no money for this information to be published. Not all responded to our requests for information nor did they have any obligation to respond. They are all busy people.

Union County Sheriff

The office of sheriff is generally considered the highest ranking office in Mississippi county government. Mississippi sheriffs have broad responsibility for law enforcement throughout the counties they serve. They serve primarily unincorporated areas, which have no police departments of their own, but are not limited to those areas.  Sheriffs generally are in charge of running county jails. Sheriffs have some administrative responsibilities and furnish a variety of services to the various courts having jurisdiction in the counties. The Nov. 3rd ballot has two candidates, a Democrat and a Republican.

Jimmy Edwards, a Democrat, is the incumbent Union County Sheriff. He is completing his first term in that job. He is a native of Union County and has 16 years law enforcement experience.

He survived a Democratic primary challenge and easily defeated former three-term sheriff Tommy Wilhite, under whom he was chief deputy for six years.

Edwards is married to the former Larissa Smith. They have four children: Brittany, Gregory, Jacob and Edwin.

He is among the most frequently and highly honored sheriffs in Mississippi. While still serving as chief deputy Edwards received the Mississippi “Top Cop Award” from the National Association of Police Organizations. In 2013 Edwards received an award at the White House from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

He has appeared on the television show America’s Most Wanted with John Walsh.

Greg Elder is the Republican candidate for Union County Sheriff. The following is a portion of the statement Elder submitted to

The Office of Sheriff belongs to the people of Union Co. and I believe it’s time for the Sheriff to remember this. A Sheriff is just the highest elected law enforcement Officer in the County, it’s not a dictatorship and he still answers to the people whom he swears to protect. Every decision/indecision the Sheriff makes effects people’s lives and futures.  That’s why it is so important to elect a man whom you can trust.

I will be a Sheriff that will sacrifice for you, a Sheriff that will protect you, a Sheriff that knows how to be a public servant and a Sheriff that will stand tall for the residents of this great county with true courage and Godly conviction. The future of your family’s safety and security is in your hands. On November 3, 2015, please vote Greg Elder for Union Co.

Circuit Clerk

Phyllis Stanford, a Democrat, is the incumbent Union County Circuit Clerk. She had no opponent in the Democratic primary and is unopposed in the general election.

Chancery Clerk.

There are two candidates for Union County Chancery Clerk, a Republican incumbent and a Democratic challenger.

Annette Hickey, a Republican, is the incumbent Union County Chancery Clerk. She is completing her second term in the office.

A native of Tennessee, she has lived in Union County for 25 years. She is married to John Hickey, a New Albany businessman. They have two sons: Jack, a freshman at Northeast Mississippi Community College and Sam a junior at New Albany High School.

Her mother and step father are Mary Nelson Henderson and Tommy Henderson. Her own father was killed in an automobile accident involving a drunk driver in 2001.

Annette Hickey is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and has a degree in court reporting. Before being elected chancery clerk in 2007 she worked for as a court reporter in the chancery court system for six years, and did other legal work prior to that.

She relaxes by playing the piano and is widely considered very accomplished on that instrument.

Family court matters are the major part of the business done by chancery courts in Mississippi. She said that, while there are sometimes unhappy matters to be dealt with in chancery court, there are also pleasant ones.  She mentioned handling adoptions as a more pleasant aspect of the work.

“I love the opportunity to serve and help people,” she said.

Andrea Laher Herring is the Democratic party nominee for chancery clerk.

She has had experience in accounting and in operating a small business. She worked in human resources for 13 years. She formerly worked in a law office in Tupelo.

Union County Superintendent of Education

A decision Thursday, October 29th, by the Mississippi Supreme Court, disqualified Roger Browning, the Republican candidate for Union County Superintendent of Education. Ken Basil, the incumbent Democrat, will thus be re-elected without opposition.

The race for county superintendent had been the contest which drew the most attention during this election cycle. For the past three months a legal battle over whether or not Browning’s place of residence allowed him to qualify for the job has been a hot topic.

Although Browning won the Republican nomination for school superintendent without opposition, the non-partisan Union County Election Commission disqualified him from being on the November ballot soon after the August 4th Republican primary election. The election commission’s action stemmed from the discovery that Browning does not live in the Union County School District. Although he lives outside the New Albany city limits, his home on County Road 126 is in the city school district, not the county district. Browning is reported to have said he did not know he did not live in the county district until his wife went to vote August 3 and was not allowed to vote in the county schools election primary because she was not a resident.

After the election commission disqualified Browning because of his non-residency in the district, he filed a lawsuit in Union County Circuit Court asking that the election commission’s ruling be overturned. Last month that case had progressed on appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court and was pending there until Thursday.

For information about the MS Supreme Court decision, see: Supreme court rules in favor of Basil.

The following passages were written using information furnished by Basil and Browning before the decision that will void any votes cast for Browning. We thought, however, that some readers might be interested in knowing more about the two men at the center of the controversy, and thus have decided to leave it in the story.

Ken Basil is seeking a third term as Union County Superintendent of Education as the Democratic Party nominee.

Although he faced two Democrat challengers in the first primary and missed receiving an absolute majority in the first election by about 3.5 percentage points, he defeated the Aug. 4th second place candidate with 57 percent of the vote in the runoff election.

A Union County native and veteran of nearly three decades as a teacher, coach and administrator in Mississippi public schools, Basil had been principle of the school at Potts Camp in Marshall County for 3-1/2 years when he was elected Union County school superintendent in November 2007. As a coach at the West Union campus, Basil led that school’s basketball team to back-to-back state championships in 1997 and 1998.

Basil points with pride to the fact that Union County schools rank fourth in the state in academic performance while most school district in Mississippi spend more per pupil.

Basil says he saw a need in his first term to make a greater variety of extra-curricular activities available to K-12 students. “Everybody can’t be an athlete,” he said. “We needed to make more extra-curricular opportunities available so everyone would be able to participate in something. “Keeping students in school and motivating them to perform well is a primary challenge in public education,” said Basil. “We created new after-school activities that would attract more students. We require that they maintain good attendance and good grades before they participate in the extra-curricular activities.”

To that end, the Union County schools during Basil’s two terms of office have instigated new programs in music, art, dramatics and athletics.

  • The four-campus district now has a marching band program, transportation is provided to students throughout the system so that they meet in one place for band practice.
  • Art classes are available at each school.
  • The district now has an interscholastic football team and a new stadium at the East Union campus. Students from any campus are eligible to play football. Each school now has a weight training room.
  • The district wide-musical theater program is perhaps the best known and most popular of the extra-curricular opportunities created during Basil’s time in office.

“I believe students, teachers, coaches and parents throughout the district are working together as never before because of our expanded extra-curricular program,” said Basil. “We have great teachers, great kids, great parents and a smart, supportive school board. Attendance is up, discipline problems are down, and grades are better.”

Basil is married to Christi Goolsby Basil. They have two children, Tyler, a senior at Mississippi State University, and Hayden, a senior at West Union School.

Roger Browning won the Republican nomination for Union County Schools Superintendent without opposition in the August primary.

He worked previously for the Union County school district. He was an assistant principal at the Ingomar campus in the early part of the last decade. He became principal at Ingomar, but he resigned from that position in June 2006 and has not since worked in K-12 education.

During the last nine years he has worked for Itawamba Community College and the Three Rivers Planning and Development District. At present he is director of retirement living at Traceway Retirement Community in Tupelo.

Browning says he has been campaigning for the past eight months and said he is grateful for the way he has been received in homes throughout Union County.

“I tried to express to you my intentions to make our schools exceptional in every way,” he said. “This process will begin with transitioning away from Common Core and developing a curriculum that is based on College and Career Readiness Skills. For those students intent on entering our institutions of higher learning, we need to provide them with the necessary advanced level courses they will need to be ready. For our children who choose to complete high school and enter the workforce, we must co-op with our community colleges and dual enroll them. They need the opportunity to shadow and visit our local occupational areas. Our career readiness skills should be fitted to equip them for an ever-changing and challenging workforce. This will give them the skills they will need to compete for high paying jobs.

“We need to access each of our four campuses and tap into every grant available to provide our students with the latest technology. This is the world they live in, and it is the world in which they will one day work. I want to work together with our staff and make sure they have the resources they need to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

Browning and his wife Rebecca have been married 41 years. They live in the Locust Grove community, outside the New Albany city limits but within the New Albany School District, on property that has been in her family for many years. They have three children and five grandchildren.

Justice Court Judge, East Post.

Judge Ronnie Rakestraw is retiring after eight terms as Justice Court Judge, East Post, thus creating an “open” position.

Three candidates, a Republican, a Democrat and an Independent, will be on the November 3rd ballot for Justice Court Judge, East Post.

Thomas A. “Drew” Shands, II  is the Republican candidate for the East Post judgeship. He was not opposed in the August 4th Republican primary election.

Shands is the only one of the three candidates who is an attorney. He practices law in New Albany with the firm Shands and Mord, PLLC.  He is a resident of the East Post.

He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi in Oxford and of the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson.. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Taxation from the law school of Washington University in St. Louis.

Late last year Drew Shands became the Union County Youth Court Referee.

“Justice Court is the court any Mississippian is most likely to deal with,” said Shands. “Among other things. Justice Court deals with  small civil claims lawsuits and misdemeanor infractions. Although only lawsuits for relatively small amounts of money and relatively minor crimes come before Justice Court, it is important that each person who comes before the court be treated courteously, fairly and knowledgeably,” Shands said. “It is not a minor matter to the person who comes before the court seeking justice.”

In most instances people who come before the Justice Court represent themselves and may not be affiliated with an attorney. “The Justice Court Judge must deal with people in an understanding and helpful way to help them resolve the matters that have proven troublesome for them,” said Shands. “I think my training and temperament are well-suited for the work.”

Shands and his wife Mary Catherine were both born and raised in New Albany and are active members of the First United Methodist Church in New Albany.

David “Bruno” Garrison is the Democratic party candidate for East Post Justice Court Judge. He submitted the following to

I’m David “Bruno” Garrison seeking office of Justice court judge east post.  It’s a open seat Ronnie Rakestraw is retiring. I’m 47 years old and a lifetime resident of union county. I’m the son of the late Darrell and Doris Garrison of pinedale and I have 3 brothers Billy Allen and Dennis Garrison I’m married to Former Lisa Rakestraw and We have lived in the center/Hopewell community for 25 years. We  have 4 children heather baker sanders ,tori , Abby , and Kagan Garrison. I’m a member of center Baptist Church.

I’m a 1987  graduate of west union and attended northeast for 2 years. I have 18 years of law enforcement experience and 12 years experience serving in Justice court already as elected constable I’ve sit beside judge Rakestraw ,judge Robert Childers ,and judge Chris Childers for 12 years I’m also a 1998 graduate North Miss Law Enforcement training academy also graduating top 10 in class I was a member of New Albany police Dept first ever Swat team under former police Cheif David Grisham.  I’ve served all 18 years of law enforcement in union county either with the New Albany police dept or the union county sheriff dept.

I’m currently a criminal/Narcotics Investigator with union county sheriff dept.  I want to be your Justice court judge east post because I care about union county and where you and I raise our kids. With my experience in Justice court and law enforcement I want to make a difference I believe the Justice court is your court it’s the people’s court and u need someone that will be fair to everyone and equal and I promise that I will do that if anyone knows me knows that I try to be fair to everyone and treat each other equal.

Please allow my experience to work for you on nov 3 vote David “Bruno”Garrison your next Justice Court Judge East Post.

Jim Taylor is an Independent candidate for East Post Justice Court Judge. He submitted the following information:

I am Jim Taylor and I am seeking the open position for EAST POST JUDGE. I have been out trying to see as many of you as I could, but working a full time job it is hard to see you all. I ask that you take this as one more way for me to outreach and you consider voting and making me your next East Post Judge. I have been in law enforcement now for a little over 15 years. I worked 8 years for the Union County Sheriff’s, and now currently employed with the MS Department of Corrections as the Union County House Arrest Officer.

I am married to my wife of 22 years Enola Steward Taylor and we have 3 sons Kyle, Jaden and Devin. I took this opportunity to run for the job because it was an open position. I do not look at this as I am running against anyone, but giving the community of the East Post to consider electing me for the position and to serve as your next East Post Judge. I have the experience that is needed to be fair, yet firm in the decisions that are required to be made in this capacity and I am ready to serve you if elected.

You, the people, determine who you want as your next East Post Judge and I ask you to consider my qualifications and allow me to serve you. On November 3, 2015 VOTE Jim Taylor East Post Judge.

Justice Court Judge, West Post

Christopher Alan Childers, a Democrat, is the incumbent West Post Justice Court Judge. He did not have opposition in the primary election and has no opponent in the general election.

East Post Constable

J. Doyle, a Democrat, has no opponent in the general election.

West Post Constable

There are two candidates for West Post Constable.

Ronnie Goudy is the Democratic candidate for West Post Constable. He submitted the following to

My name is Ronnie Goudy, and I am your Democratic Candidate for West Post Constable. I would like to start by saying thank you for all your support to get me through the Primary Election and on to the General Election this upcoming Tuesday November 3, 2015.

I was born and raised in the Ingomar community where I currently reside with my wife, Jennifer Childers Goudy of West Union, and our son Thayer Clayburn Goudy. We are expecting a new addition to the family, Lanson Grady Goudy, coming this upcoming February. I am the son of Alan and Edna Goudy. My wife Jennifer is the youngest daughter of Randy and Shelia Bynum, and the late Robert Childers.

I graduated from the Ingomar Attendance Center in 2001. I then joined the United States Marine Corps in 2002. I served 6 years active duty in the Marine Corps, also serving three additional years in the Marine Corps Reserves reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant. While in the military I served in Operation Iraqi Freedom II, also served abroad as a Marine Security Guard providing security for various American Embassies around the world. When returning home from active duty in 2008 I meet my wonderful wife. I started my law enforcement career in 2009 and married by beautiful wife in the same year. I currently work for the New Albany Police Department as the shift Sergeant.

I am seeking election as your next WEST POST CONSTABLE because I have made a career of my adult life out of serving others which I love to do. I am very passionate about my job as a law enforcement officer, and I love being able to help those who can’t help themselves. I truly believe that this career path is not a choice, but a calling from God. My family and I are members of Macedonia Baptist Church.

I hope everyone is able to make it out to the poles on Tuesday to let their voice be heard, and Remember HELP ELECT RONNIE GOUDY as your next WEST POST CONSTABLE.

Andy Howard is the Republican candidate for West Post Constable. He submitted the following to

I would like to take the time to let everyone know how grateful I am to the Votes in the first round of elections. Thanks to the West Post area for the votes. Once again it has come time on Tuesday 3rd of November to go to the polls and let your vote count, its your Constitutional right. I ask that you once again consider to vote Andy Howard as West Post Constable.

I have been a resident of Union County for over 44 years. I’m married to the former Tonya Nix, Tonya and I have four wonderful children, Ron 32 and his wife Beth live in Pontotoc, also our oldest daughter Megan 28 lives there too. Curtis our youngest son is with our Heavenly Father, he passed in 2006, he turned 31 this past September.

Tonya and I with our youngest daughter live on Cr.88 just off Martin town Rd. We have been married 17 years and lived here for almost 17. Emma attends school at West Union and is in the 5th grade. Tonya works there also as a teachers aid.

I’m employed at Ashley Furniture in Ripley/Ecru as a Maintenance Tech/Mechanic PM weekends for 5 years. 9 years at Master Bilt, 15 plus years sub contractor, home improvement. I have dealt with the public in all jobs I have held.

My reasons for running for Constable are because it’s been a childhood dream to be in Law Enforcement,I will take this Post full time or part time, which ever it’s demands are. I have a strong drive for this job, it will in no way be taken lightly,110 % is what I will give for the people of this district,so many times people have a struggle in life, to me there has to be a bit of compassion that comes with the responsibility’s of this job, I honestly have that feeling toward it,but also know the dangers.

I will uphold the Laws of this State, assist with the County and City Law Enforcement.

I ran four years ago,it was a great experience for me,I’d also like to say good luck to all the of the candidates in the General Election. I salute my opponent Ronnie Goudy and the service he has given our Country, also here on the home front, good luck Ronnie.

My main goal is to protect and serve the fine people of Union County/NA City and carry out all duties of the Constable,to make a difference or to help in any way.

Thanks to my wife, children,family and friends for there encouraging words. I thank the voters but most of all I thank God for this opportunity to serve you.

When you go to the polls on November the 3rd Vote to elect Andy Howard for your next West Post Constable.

Once again thanks and God Bless.

Andy Howard.

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