Jones County Circuit Court challenger; “I have no ties to Pickering.”

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The state auditor is in the middle of the Jones County Circuit Court Judicial election. It is now come to light that one of the candidates has a past with the State Auditor Stacey Pickering.

In 2003, Dal Williamson represented Pickering when he was running for state senator.

Williamson confirms that he in fact did represent Pickering, but that was the only time.

"That's been years and years ago and anyone that is now trying to say that I have a tie to Stacey Pickering, that's the state auditor now, that's just, that's simply an act of desperation in the election," Williamson said.

When asked about his ties with Williamson, Stacy Pickering responded by saying, "This is not the first time that a target of an audit investigation attempts to muddy the waters by making counter claims such as this. At the end of the day our investigation will be proven factual."

According to 2003 news articles, when Pickering was running for state senator a petition was submitted by Sid Easterling stating that Pickering was not a qualified candidate since he was not a legal resident of Jones County prior to running for a state office.

Easterling said Williamson was representing Pickering at the time.

"I appealed to the Jones County Election Board. They held a meeting and he was represented in that meeting by Dal Williamson and that's the best of my memory," Easterling said.

The election commission eventually ruled in Pickering's favor.

Concerns have been raised with the timing of the investigation considering the challenger and the auditor's past.

According to Pickering, the investigation on Judge Billy Joe Landrum began way before anyone qualified for the judicial election.

On Wednesday, Judge Billy Joe Landrum responded to the allegations of misspending made by State Auditor Stacey Pickering through a news release.

"Pickering has no business making false allegations about me in an attempt to influence a Jones County judicial election," Landrum said.

The news release went on to say, if the accounts of Jones County have been reviewed for years, why is it now that the auditor's office is filing a complaint against the judge?

Landrum said when he made it clear to Pickering that he was intending to run for re-election, Pickering publicly accused him of misspending.

For the first time in 28 years the Jones County Circuit Court Judge has not one but three challengers: J. Ronald Parrish, Dal Williamson and Grant Hedgepeth.

The general election is scheduled for November 4.

Copyright 2014 WDAM. All rights reserved.