Ford, Easterling, Bonelli vie for District 54 state rep seat Tuesday

Published 6:29 pm Saturday, November 4, 2017

The candidates in the special election for House District 54 say they are out knocking on doors and meeting voters as they head into the final days before the election.

Vicksburg contractor Joe Bonelli, Dr. Randy Easterling and Kevin Ford, owner of the Ford Insurance Agency, are candidates to fill the seat vacated by former state Rep. Alex Monsour, who resigned after being elected the city of Vicksburg’s South Ward alderman in June.

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The election is Tuesday. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

District 54 covers part of Vicksburg and the northern and eastern areas of Warren County, and a portion of the northwest part of the county.

The following precincts are included in the house district: all of the Bovina, Culkin, Oak Ridge and Redwood precincts, portions of the Cedar Grove and Kings precincts and all of precinct 3-61, part of Vicksburg Junior High School precinct, all of the Beechwood and Plumbers and Pipefitters precincts, and part of the Tingleville precinct.

Anyone with questions whether they can vote in the election can call the Warren County Election Commission at 601-638-8875, or the circuit clerk’s office at 601-636-3961.

“It’s going terrific,” Ford said of his campaign. “I’ve been out talking to the people of District 54 so I can be ready to represent them.”

He said he and his family “have knocked on more than 3,000 doors talking to voters and listening to their concerns. It’s been a very gratifying experience.”

He plans to continue that strategy until the polls close, and has no plans for a big last minute push in the final few days.

“I’m going to get out and try to contact some more people in the district I haven’t reached out to yet; make one final push to see what we can get done before the election,” Bonelli said.

He believes the race for Monsour’s seat is “pretty much neck-and-neck for everybody, I’m not sure. There’s only one person who knows that, and that’s the lord.

“I think I’ve got a lot of supporters; I think each candidate has their own supporters. (But) some people don’t know how they’re going to vote until they get in there and put their ‘X’ on the ballot, so we’ll see Tuesday,” Bonelli said

Easterling had a town hall conference call program Thursday where voters could call him an ask questions, “And we’re doing a push out, getting our message out to the district, and trying to spend as much time as we can meeting people, and tell them what we stand for.”

“I think the campaign is going well; I think it’s being well-received within the district, I think we’re getting our message out.”

According to campaign finance reports posted Wednesday by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, Easterling leads the three-candidate field in contributions and expenses, reporting $78,850 in contributions and $48,703.18 in expenses. Ford is next with $19,950 in contributions and $14,122.28 in expenses. Bonelli reported $5,349 in contributions and $5,099.71 in expenses.

Easterling contributed $10,000 of his own funds to his campaign and reported a $25,000 contribution from the Mississippi Medical Political Action Committee, an arm of the Mississippi Medical Association. He also reports 16 contributions of $1,000 and single contributions of $2,000 and $1,500.

Ford also gave $10,000 of his own funds to his campaign, and reports one contribution of $5,000 and two $1,000 contributions. Bonelli’s largest reported contribution is $750.

Monsour, a Republican, resigned his seat in the Mississippi House July 5, about a month after defeating then-incumbent South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson in the June 6 municipal general elections.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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