Vollor, Barnes back in|[11/8/06]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Judges Frank Vollor and Vicki Roach Barnes were back in their robes this morning after defeating challengers in Tuesday’s general election.

Vollor beat Assistant District Attorney John Bullard 6,001 to 2,590 (70 percent to 30 percent) in a race for a circuit court judgeship elected from part of Warren County.

Barnes, elected from a subdistrict composed of Warren, Sharkey and Issaquena counties, won Warren County 9,493 votes to 2,060 and the entire district by 11,475 votes to 2,238 (84 percent to 16 percent).

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The circuit court race was the area’s most hotly contested, judging by yard signs, advertising and campaign workers at polling places Tuesday.

At least 11,671 of the county’s 35,266 registered voters voted Tuesday, a 33 percent turnout.

Vollor, who has held the judgeship for 17 years, said people were very kind to him.

&#8220It’s a wonderful town and county to live in,” Vollor said, adding that his re-election outreach &#8220just reaffirmed that in me.” He was back on the bench in Warren County Drug Court this morning.

Bullard, a 15-year prosecutor, was Vollor’s first challenger since Vollor was first elected. Bullard had worked to persuade voters that it was time for a change.

&#8220My people worked very hard – my wife, my mother, my sisters were some of the hardest-working campaigners I could ever hope for,” Bullard said. &#8220And I’ll tell the people this: That where I perceive an injustice, I’ll fight it. And if I lose, that’s OK.”

The 9th Circuit District covers all of Warren, Sharkey and Issaquena counties and has two judges with jurisdiction districtwide. It is divided into two subdistricts only for election purposes.

The post held by Vollor is elected from a subdistrict that includes most Warren County precincts. The post held by Isadore Patrick, who ran unopposed for re-election, is composed of the remaining Warren County precincts and all of Sharkey and Issaquena counties.

Barnes said she looked forward to another four years. &#8220I’m thankful that it was God’s will that this election took place and that the voting took place the way it did,” she said, adding that she’d like to thank all voters &#8220for going out and casting their ballots and doing what they thought was right.”

Chancery courts are &#8220family law” courts in Mississippi, handling divorce, adoption, wills and estates and property cases. Barnes was first elected in one of the 9th Chancery District’s three subdistricts to take office in 1995.

She was opposed by Vicksburg attorney Ceola James, who formerly served as a chancellor, has run before and also sought a state Supreme Court seat.

The chancery district includes all of Warren, Sharkey, Issaquena, Washington and Sunflower counties and has three judges.

Circuit courts in Mississippi handle lawsuits seeking money damages and felony criminal cases. During Vollor’s campaign he cited his role in establishing here a state-encouraged program of intensive probation called drug court that encourages felons to confront their addictions to avoid prison.

&#8220I want to see it firmly established,” Vollor said. &#8220It has 61 participants now. It could easily handle 200.”

Vollor added he now wants to see a halfway house opened in Vicksburg for drug offenders and people leaving prison. &#8220It will be a big project,” he said.

New, touch-screen voting machines were being used for the first time here in a general election Tuesday. The machines had been used in Democratic primary and primary-runoff elections in June, but many were seeing them for the first time.

District 4 Election Commissioner John Rundell said there were very few problems.

&#8220A couple broke down and we had to run fix them,” Rundell said. &#8220Some of the others had little difficulties. I don’t think it was anything major.”

Rundell added that election commissioners were to meet at 9 a.m. today to begin counting affidavit and absentee ballots.

In judicial races not on local ballots, the Mississippi Court of Appeals, state Rep. Virginia Carlton of Columbia won a spot for the Nov. 21 runoff. Chancery Judges Ed Patten Jr. of Hazlehurst and Larry Buffington of Collins were vying for the second spot.

The other candidates on the ballot – Richard Grindstaff, a Byram attorney who ran unsuccessfully for a state Supreme Court post in 2004, and attorney Scott Phillips of Columbia – trailed in the race.

Appeals Judge Leslie Southwick did not seek re-election to the seat he had held since the Court of Appeals was founded in 1994. He has been nominated to become a U.S. District Court judge in Jackson.

In uncontested races in Warren County, three incumbents won re-election: