Price, Arledge to keep plugging for runoff

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 12, 2002

[11/12/02]Their runoff election a week from today, the two candidates for Warren County Court judge agree on one thing: The race now presents voters with a clear choice.

In the Nov. 5 general election, Warren County Prosecutor Johnny Price, 56, got nearly a majority of votes, 48.8 percent, in the five-candidate field. If he’d gotten half plus one vote, there would be no runoff.

Robert Arledge, 45, finished second with 16.3 percent of the total to make the Nov. 19 runoff.

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Neither said any major stragegy changes are planned.

“The basic theme of my campaign will not change,” Price said, “the theme being that I’m the experienced candidate and that my opponent has never been in Youth Court.”

Arledge said the question voters face now is, “Do people want the status quo, or do they want a candidate committed to progressive change and committed to the improvement of the county and Youth Court system?”

As the county’s elected prosecutor for 13 years, Price has said he has handled approximately 10,000 cases in Youth Court, which the county court judge administers.

Arledge is from Vicksburg and has lived here while conducting a regional and national Jackson-based practice that has included complex mass-tort litigation, he has said.

Price received a large plurality of votes in all five board of supervisors districts, which voted for him in percentages ranging from 42.0 to 53.0, election returns showed. Arledge got his highest percentages of votes, 26 and 22.9, in the two districts whose voting-age populations are over 70 percent black.

Arledge said he tried to spend as much time as he could with people of all races in the campaign, speaking “whenever two people were gathered and were willing to listen to what I had to say.”

He did say, however, that his message “may resonate a little better” with black people, who as a group may be most affected by the outcome of the race.

“It may be that they recognize more so than some other groups in the community that we can no longer afford to have a system operating in the manner in which the Youth Court system has operated for the last 20 years,” he said.

Price attributed his strong showing across races to “the fact that voters wanted a change. They wanted to see something positive, they wanted a positive and ethical campaign, which is what they got. Of the viable candidates, I was clearly the one who was most qualified and experienced.”

The winner would replace 16-year incumbent Gerald Hosemann, 50, who received 9.3 percent of votes, the fifth-highest amount, returns showed. Without opposition since winning the post in a three-way race in 1986, Hosemann succeeded James E. Nichols, who served as county court judge for 28 years.

Price said his newspaper and radio advertisements would be slightly modified for the runoff. Arledge again pledged to use his “intelligence, creativity and work ethic” and to “get out and work 80 hours a week” at the job.

Price said he would not be putting out any more yard signs since many of them had disappeared from where they were placed, and Arledge also said many of his yard signs had turned up missing.

Reported campaign-committee spending in the race through Oct. 26 totaled $253,887, believed to be the largest such sum for a Warren County or Vicksburg race. Spending for Arledge was $201,836, about 10 times that for Price, the next-biggest spender.

In addition to administering Youth Court, which hears juvenile matters including delinquency, abuse and neglect of those under age 18, the county court judge is responsible for hearing civil or criminal matters involving any claim up to $75,000. The judge may also handle certain non-capital felony cases transferred from circuit court. County court judgeships exist in 19 of the state’s 82 counties