Supervisors to name constable on Monday|[09/05/07]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ten applicants who replied to the county’s call for qualified applicants for central district constable can still hold out hope to be chosen for the position — one which will likely end in less than four months.

In a reversal of their position, Warren County supervisors agreed Tuesday to name an interim constable by Monday to serve until Jan. 1, when the winner of what could be another uncontested election for the position will take office.

The unusual and confusing situation arose because of the timing of the resignation of Rudolph Walker, who had held the position. It came after qualifying for the post closed March 1 and too close to the general election to call a special election. Because qualifying cannot be reopened, it will be up to local political party executive committees to name a candidate each for the Nov. 6 ballot.

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At the urging of District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon, however, the board agreed to interview those who responded to advertisements the county placed seeking interest in the job, most of which is to serve justice court papers.

“We have a responsibility to fill the position,” Selmon said, adding the parallel processes undertaken by both supervisors and the Warren County Democratic Executive Committee are separate.

Initially, the idea was dismissed as duplication.

“If someone offered you a job for three months and then someone else offered one for four years, which one would you take?,” District 1 Supervisor David McDonald asked as the board grudgingly agreed to adjourn until Monday.

Notable among the 10 applicants are Michael Gates, who has lost two Democratic primary elections for District 2 supervisor, and former Army Corps employee Karen Magruder. Others who submitted applications are Anthony Gibson, Mose Hearron Sr., James E. Jefferson Jr., Michael David Martin, Roosevelt Mitchell, Kelvin Mixon, Randy Naylor and Lester R. Smith, who said Tuesday he will run as a Republican if selected. Local Republican party leaders said previously they would not seek to place a candidate in the race.

Supervisors were initially advised by the Secretary of State’s Office to advertise the position, only to find out later a candidate to stand election must be chosen by the party officials, said District 5 Supervisor Richard George, board president.

As Democratic officials pore over applications, so will the county. If any consultation occurs between either, it will have to come by week’s end, as party leaders have such a deadline in their advertisement.

The other two elected constables, Glenn McKay and John Heggins, have served papers in the district. McKay is opposed in the northern district by independent Eddie Hoover in November, while Heggins was unopposed in the Democratic primary and will serve another term in the southern district.

Walker resigned the office in July, but necessary paperwork withdrawing from the election arrived to state election officials too late to avoid appearing on primary ballots. As the lone candidate, he received 1,344 votes.

Walker, also a 31-year Vicksburg police officer, cited medical problems as his reason for leaving the post. A lawsuit is pending in federal court against the city, which fired him in April saying his medical leave and other had benefits expired and there was no reason to keep him listed since he could not work assigned duties.