Thomason wins runoff to be coroner for 3 years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2000

At right, candidate Ronald C. Regan, left, congratulates John A. Thomason Tuesday night after Thomason won the runoff to become Warren County coroner. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

After coming in second in the Nov. 7 special election, John A. Thomason III pulled ahead in Round 2 Tuesday to become Warren County coroner in a runoff election.

Although interim coroner Ronald C. Regan led the field of five candidates two weeks ago, the runoff was required because he did not have a majority.

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As the results were being tallied, Thomason admitted being shocked by his sizable lead over Regan.

“I’m floored,” Thomason said. “This is just a total surprise to me.”

With the ballots from all 22 county precincts tallied, Thomason captured 4,191 votes to Regan’s 2,587 in unofficial returns. In the election two weeks ago, Regan had topped Thomason with 6,172 votes to 5,598.

“I’m not disappointed,” Regan said. “I’m just surprised.

Thomason, 42, is manager of Fisher-Riles Funeral Home. In 1983, he ran for the post, but lost to long-time county coroner L.W. Callaway III.

Callaway was appointed director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency in August. Regan, 47, who has served as the county deputy coroner since 1993, was appointed to fill the position until Jan. 1 when Thomason will take office.

Thomason will serve the remaining three years of Callaway’s four-year term. He said he had not decided who would be deputy coroner.

“I’m just honored,” Thomason said. “We worked really hard for this.”

Coroners make rulings on deaths that result from trauma or when a person is not under a physician’s care. The position is part-time and pays $750 per month and $85 per inquest.

Thomason has been the manager at Fisher-Riles Funeral Home for five years. Regan is with Jefferson Funeral Home.

Regan, who was making his first run for public office, said Tuesday night that it was too soon to tell if he would seek office again.

“The citizens of Warren County didn’t choose qualification or experience,” Regan said.

With the one race on local ballots, turnout was expected to be light for the runoff. Out of the 31,370 names listed as registered voters, 6,788, or 21 percent, cast ballots Tuesday.

In the election two weeks ago that included the presidential race, 18,371 votes were cast locally. That’s a 58 percent turnout.