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Incumbent mayors find Election Day a mixed bag across the Pine Belt

Mayoral elections in the Pine Belt slightly favored new faces in 13 contested races.
Mayoral elections in the Pine Belt slightly favored new faces in 13 contested races.
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 12:28 AM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - Voters in seven of 13 Pine Belt cities with contested mayoral races in the Pine Belt decided change was a good thing.

Or, in at least two cases, voters had no option but to embrace the new.

And yet, voters in six other Pine Belt cities and towns decided the status quo was just fine.

Tuesday’s winners will have to wait for the results to be certified before they become official. New terms begin July 1.

Two of the region’s larger cities, Hattiesburg and Laurel, re-seated their incumbents for another four-year term.

Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker received nearly 85 percent of the votes cast to earn a second term. The former state representative unofficially topped former city planner Lakeylah White by more than 5,500 votes.

Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee picked up 1,850 votes to top a four-person field Tuesday and win a third term as top administrator of Jones County largest city.

Magee outpaced Miranda Beard (1,344 votes), Kim Page (328 votes) and Anthony Hudson (93 votes).

Another Jones County city, Ellisville, returned its incumbent, Lynn Buckhaults, who unofficially topped challenger Jalen Lindsey by more than 100 votes.

Others who appeared headed for another term in office: Richton’s Michael Ruffin and Lumbertons’s Quincy Rogers.

Bay Springs will see a new officeholder for the first time in more than three decades after incumbent J.E. Smith lost to Donald Brown by 79 votes. Smith had been mayor since 1989.

Two Perry County towns, New Augusta and Beaumont, will welcome new mayors with the incumbents absent from Tuesday’s ballot.

In the Beaumont race, Scott Dailey finished with 17 more votes than Leon Small, while in New Augusta, Steve Spicer recieved109 votes to James Benefield’s 60 votes.

In Sumrall, William Lofton held a nine-vote edge over incumbent Heath Sumrall.

Three other municipalities also will welcome new mayors, including:

  • Heidelberg, where David Taylor II topped a four-man field, including incumbent Wilbert Carr, with 145 votes
  • State Line, where Willie Miller got 72 of the 155 votes cast Tuesday. Incumbent Terry Simpson Sr. finished third in a three-man field
  • Soso, where Ralph Cahill held a 39-vote lead over incumbent Michael Moore.

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