Voters vocal on issues in last days of campaign|[11/04/07]

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 4, 2007

Issues in the minds of Warren County voters are pared to a few key topics as the election season wraps up its final weekend.

To Jane Pecanty, the issues are easy to pinpoint.

“One of my biggest is medical care,” Pecanty said this week, tending to the installation of windows on her Oak Park home.

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Pecanty said medical bills for her late husband totaled about $200,000 until his death last year.

“The cost is just so high,” she said.

Taxes and how much they affect the pocketbooks of all economic groups are on the minds of Teresa and Charlie Marshall.

“We’d love to see the decrease in the grocery tax,” Charlie Marshall said.

Efforts to lower the state’s 7 percent grocery tax, the highest in the nation, and raise the 18 cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes have failed in the past two legislative sessions.

Opponents of the bills, including Gov. Haley Barbour, have killed the bills over fear of municipalities levying more to make up lost revenue.

Issues affecting voters’ lives, perhaps those that go beyond politics, also weigh heavy on their minds.

“Money just isn’t stretching now, especially for people on fixed incomes,” Teresa Marshall said, as she and her husband enjoyed an afternoon repainting holiday collection buckets for The Salvation Army.

Elsewhere, Warren County resident Tom McLane has made his views known in the contest for District 4 supervisor, with some self-generated creativity.

McLane skipped the machine-made signs in favor of his own in front of his Grange Hall Road home. It blasts incumbent Carl Flanders for his performance in his first term in office, covering ground such as supervisors’ state-set and board-approved salaries and Flanders’ role as a lightning rod for controversy on the current board. One part of McLane’s sign says Flanders “does not play well with the other children.”

“I would like to see more unity on the board than what we’ve had,” McLane said.

Still, as some voters mull pressing issues in the campaign of 2007, voter turnout may be determined by other circumstances.

“My wife puts the signs out,” said Danny Thompson, looking at the array that decorates their yard on Halls Ferry Road.

Thompson said his work schedule as a cable television technician may prevent him from showing up at the polls Tuesday.

“She handles that,” Thompson said.

All statewide offices are up for election Tuesday, including district races for transportation commissioner and public service commissioner.

Barbour is challenged by Democratic nominee John Arthur Eaves Jr. in his bid to become just the second Mississippi governor to win re-election. For the open lieutenant governor’s post, voters will choose between State Auditor Phil Bryant and state Rep. Jamie Franks, D-Mooreville.

Vying for Bryant’s auditor post are Mike Sumrall of Mount Olive and state Sen. Stacey Pickering, R-Laurel.

State Sen. Mike Chaney, R-Vicksburg, faces former state fiscal officer Gary Anderson for commissioner of insurance. Anderson defeated eight-term incumbent George Dale in the Democratic primary. Anderson also has a Vicksburg connection. His wife, the former Debra Miller, grew up here.

Attorney and Vicksburg native Delbert Hosemann faces former state Rep. Robert Smith for the open secretary of state’s post. Incumbent Eric Clark did not seek another term.

Attorney General Jim Hood tries for a second term against Gulfport attorney Al Hopkins. State Treasurer Tate Reeves stands for re-election versus perennial candidate Shawn O’Hara of Hattiesburg. During the qualifying period, O’Hara asked to run for eight state offices, but was told he’d have to pick one.

Commissioner of Agriculture Lester Spell is opposed for a fourth term by Rickey L. Cole of Jones County. Constitution Party candidate Paul Leslie Riley is also seeking that position.

For Central District Public Service Commissioner, state Sen. Lynn Posey, D-Union Church, takes on Republican Charles Barbour, a Hinds County supervisor. Also appearing on the ballot is Reform Party candidate Lee Dilworth. Incumbent Nielsen Cochran chose not to run.

In the race for Central District Transportation Commissioner, incumbent Dick Hall faces Madison County engineer and Vicksburg native Rudy Warnock.

All three legislative posts in Warren County are also up for election.

For the state Senate District 23 seat, Republican Briggs Hopson III, an attorney, faces Democrat Eric Rawlings, a businessman. The district also covers Issaquena County and southwest Yazoo County.

In House District 55, state Rep. George Flaggs Jr., D-Vicksburg, runs for a sixth term against Republican Rick McAlister, a local minister and businessman. The district stretches from Eagle Lake south into Vicksburg.

In House District 54, Republican Alex Monsour, a businessman, faces attorney Thomas Setser, an independent, and Democrat Jennifer Thomas, operations officer for Warren County emergency management. The district covers most of nonmunicipal Warren County, all of Issaquena County and a portion of Sharkey County.

Two additional legislative districts cover precincts in Warren County and were settled in primary voting.

Rep. Chuck Middleton, D-Port Gibson, was re-elected in August to his District 85 seat by defeating Arnold “Maine” Clark. The district covers parts of four precincts in southeast Warren County.

Rep. Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, was re-elected without opposition to his District 56 seat. It includes parts of three precincts in northeast Warren County.