2 more file papers in school board race; Warren County voter rolls get big boost

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 5, 2008

Two more people filed papers Friday to run for Vicksburg Warren School District trustee positions, but only one qualified as a potential candidate.

The filings came alongside a boost to Warren County voter rolls. Nearly 1,000 additional residents will be registered to vote in the Nov. 4 general election compared to just six months ago, tallies last Friday from the Warren County Circuit Clerk’s Office show.

The total number of registered voters stood at 36,699, up from 35,746 who appeared on voter rolls for the March 11 primary elections and up from 33,000 in the run-up to the 2004 general election. Those figures include 562 new registrants this past week alone, officials said. In the final week of 2004 registering, 472 had been processed.

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Friday at 5 p.m. was the deadline to file qualifying papers in the school board race and to register to vote in this year’s general election.

In the contest for the District 4 seat, Kimble D. Slaton is seeking to join two candidates in the race for the post, left open when incumbent Jan Daigre decided not to seek re-election.

“The reason I’d like to run for school board is to maintain the dreams of the current board,” Slaton said. “The board has made a good start, and I’d like to help continue that.”

Slaton, a self-employed land surveyor, also said he’d like to improve the public schools, which includes about 9,200 students, with the goal of making an economic impact on Vicksburg.

“We have good housing that is not being used here, and we have good students who are going to private schools or schools that are in other towns,” Slaton said. “We need to show the school district in a way that will draw people to Vicksburg.”

Also filing papers for the District 4 seat Friday was Jesse Trotter. However, he did not have the 150 signatures required from voters in his district to qualify for the race, said Warren County Election Commissioner Retha Summers.

Trotter said he simply ran out of time.

“I am in outage at Grand Gulf right now and was left with very little time to get everything together,” Trotter said.

As for running again, he said “Who knows what the future may hold?”

In addition to the 150 voter signatures, potential school board candidate are required to live in the district for which they wish to run. Slaton will officially become a candidate when the Warren County Election Commission verifies those signatures.

If verified, he will join Katrina Johnson and former Mayor Joe Loviza on the ballot for the District 4 post. Also on the ballot will be James Stirgus Jr., who is challenging incumbent Betty Tolliver for the District 3 seat.

The five-member school board, created 22 years ago, administers the district and helps maintain its $76 million budget. Terms are staggered to avoid an all-new board at any time. The board meets monthly and, in addition to Daigre and Tolliver, is comprised of Jerry Boland, president and District 1 trustee; Zelmarine Murphy, District 2 trustee; and Tommy Shelton, District 5 trustee.

In Friday’s last minute voter-registration rush, many who filled out paperwork were young voters — a segment targeted in the past by various registration drives but historically has not translated into actual Election Day turnout.

The jump in registration may indicate a higher turnout for the general election, headlined by the presidential race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. National economic woes, coupled with its effect on global events, have been predicted to pump up turnout past the 58 percent of the voting age public who voted in 2004. Locally, the 2004 turnout was also about 58 percent.

Local turnout in last year’s state- and county-level elections was 36 percent, which was down 12 percentage points from the 2003 state election cycle. In federal primary voting, local turnout was 26 percent, with Democratic turnout going up more than seven-fold.

In addition to presidential and school board candidates, Warren County ballots will include candidates for both U.S. Senate seats and the 2nd District race in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sen. Thad Cochran, a Republican, is opposed by Democrat and former state Rep. Erik Fleming, while Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican, is opposed by Democrat and former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson is opposed by Jackson teacher Richard Cook, a Republican.

The deadline to cast absentee ballots at the Circuit Clerk’s office is noon Nov. 1. Mail-in absentee ballots must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 3.