Two Oxford Board of Aldermen candidates qualify on last day
With the clock ticking down to the 5 p.m. deadline, only two more Oxford residents qualified Friday to run for an alderman seat in June.
Other than incumbents, only five residents have tossed their hat into this year’s election, leaving the three ward races – and the mayoral race – unopposed.
Incumbents Ulysses Howell, Ward 4; Janice Antonow, Ward 3; and John Morgan, At-Large will run unopposed on June 6, as will Mayor-Elect Robyn Tannehill.
Mayor Pat Patterson announced in December he would not be running for re-election.
Republican Mark Huelse, co-owner of Simply Southern and a member of the Oxford Planning Commission, qualified to run for Tannehill’s Ward 2 seat in January.
Friday morning, long-time Oxonian Paula Shanks filed her statement of intent to run in the Ward 2 race as a Democrat.
Shanks grew up in Oxford, attending Oxford public schools and earning a degree in public administration from the University of Mississippi. She worked in the Federal Probation Service and has three adult children.
She’s served with Leadership Lafayette and on the original Retiree Attraction Committee under the leadership of Max Hipp, the former Oxford and Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce executive director. She has served on both the LOU Vision Committee and the Vision 2020 Committee, appointed by the late Mayor Pat Lamar. She also served on the Oxford Planning Commission under Mayor Richard Howorth.
“It is so gratifying to hear newcomers talk about how special Oxford is and to know that the efforts of this community have been successful,” Shanks said Friday. “Of course the current board has continued to struggle with this growth, which I see is the main challenge of city leaders in the years to come.”
Shanks said she believes her experience serving Oxford will help the city move forward while keeping what makes Oxford special.
“I believe the history I share with citizens of Oxford and my experience working with those who have contributed so much will benefit the board and the city in the decisions required to maintain the quality of life we treasure in Oxford and to progress to meet the needs of those who newly call Oxford home,” Shanks said.
Long-time Ward 5 Alderman Preston Taylor will face off against fellow Democrat Theressa Hilliard in an attempt to retain his seat earlier than most of his fellow aldermen. He and Hilliard will run in the primary election on May 2. Since a Republican did not qualify to run for the Ward 5 seat, whoever wins the primary will be alderman.
Hilliard filed her intent to run for office statement on Friday morning. She got the idea to run for office at a community meeting about affordable housing.
“An alderman said if anyone was unhappy or had concerns, they should run for alderman,” Hilliard said. “I decided, why not me?”
Hilliard grew up in Oxford, then moved to Texas until 14 years ago when she returned home. She has held administrative positions at the University of Mississippi and several banks while living in Oxford.
Hilliard served on the LOU Home Inc. committee and says the city needs to address its lack of affordable housing issue.
“There’s a lot of people who are very concerned about it,” she said. “The board needs people from the community who can relate to the other citizens, who sometimes feel everything is controlled by the ‘haves.’ I can speak to people in this area the way other seasoned politicians can’t or haven’t.”
Hilliard is married to Alonzo Hilliard and they have four adult children and nine grandchildren.