Four of the five seats at the big table were occupied by freshmen members Monday when the Union County Board of Supervisors held its first 2016 meeting.
Two long-time board members did not seek re-election, and two other incumbent supervisors were defeated in the Democratic Party primary. Only District Four Supervisor Randy Owen, a Democrat who drew no opponents in either the primary or general elections, has previous experience on the board that controls both most legislative functions and most administrative authority in Union County.
Since a newly elected county Board of Supervisors in Mississippi has no official presiding officer, its first meeting is called to order by the county sheriff. Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards, a Democrat who was easily re-elected last year, performed that formal function to start the Monday morning session.
The top item on the new county board’s agenda was the election of a president to preside at its meetings. District Four Supervisor Randy Owen, the only incumbent, was unanimously elected the board president. Owen presided for the remainder of the meeting.
Dave Kitchens, the newly elected supervisor for District Three, was unanimously elected vice-president of the board. Kitchens, a Democrat, won his party’s nomination to succeed Democrat Danny Jordan, who retired after multiple terms as the board’s president. Supervisor Kitchens then defeated Republican Michael Moody and Independent Ed Prawl in the general election.
The new District One Supervisor Evan Denton, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Democrat Dwight “Peanut” Pickens in the primary election. Supervisor Denton received a plurality of 42% of the vote in the general election, defeating Independent candidate Paul Patterson, who received 31%, and Republican Marshall McLaughlin (27%).
Chad Coffey, the new District Two supervisor, defeated incumbent Democrat Jimmy Yarbrough in the primary election. Supervisor Coffey easily won the general election with 65% of the vote, defeating GOP candidate Bo Dillard and Independent Gerald Rea.
Steve Watson is the new supervisor for District Five. Supervisor Watson succeeds Bennie Rakestraw, who retired after serving multiple terms in that position. After winning the Democratic Party nomination in the August primary, Watson defeated Republican nominee Caleb Chandler in the November general election.
The newly constituted Board of Supervisors signaled a commitment to continuity and stability by re-appointing all of the key individuals, who support its administrative and legislative work. Among those re-appointed were: Thad Mueller, the long-serving board attorney was re-appointed. County Administrator Terry Johnson was reappointed as was Road Supervisor James Byers. Shellie Kent was appointed to continue her service as the county’s purchasing clerk.
BNA Bank of New Albany and Renasant Bank of Tupelo both submitted bids to serve as county depository. The board took those bids under advisement.
Board President Randy Owen announced a new practice for having items placed on the agenda for the board’s regular Monday morning meetings. Except in the case of emergencies, items must be submitted for placement on the Monday agenda by not later than noon the prior Friday.