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Lafayette County sees record turnout on historic Election Day

Lafayette County saw a record turnout for Election Day on Tuesday.

While the majority of the voters showed up at polling precincts in droves for the Presidential Election and other statewide races, there were a few local races on the ballot as well.

Over 70 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in this year’s general election, with 23,301 of 33,217 eligible voters participating either in person, absentee ballots or affidavits.

The Lafayette County School District’s school board will have two new members with one incumbent losing and a vacant position filled. Jamie Anderson won the vacant District 1 seat, which was left open when Brent Larson was elected as the District 1 Supervisor last Fall. Anderson defeated Gary “Chick” Drewrey by 145 votes and 38.6 percent of the vote. In the District 5 race, Kathy Babb Worley defeated current school board member Bill McGregor by nearly 300 votes with 57.8 percent of the vote.

In the Election Commission races, District 4 has a new commissioner in Laura Antonow, who defeated Tony Halcin with 63.8 percent of the vote. Antonow replaces current District 4 commissioner Jim Stephens who did not seek re-election. In the District 3 race, incumbent Lola Pearson held off Philip Carpenter in a tight race that saw Pearson win 51.3 percent of the vote to Pearson’s 48.5 percent.

District 1,2 and 4 were all unopposed with Faye Phillips, Max Hipp and Debbie Black elected as those districts’ commissioners, respectively.

When Jody Mayfield retired as Lafayette County’s Central Constable, the county’s Board of Supervisors appointed Chris ‘Snuffy’ Smith as the interim to serve the remainder of Mayfield’s term. Smith was seeking to stay on as constable, but lost to challenger Kenneth Drewrey, who won with 55.7 percent of the vote.

History was also officially made on Tuesday with the election of a new state flag for Mississippi, labeled as statewide ballot Measure 3. The Magnolia design was overwhelmingly voted in as the new state flag, receiving over 70 percent of the vote statewide. In Lafayette County, the measure received 80.4 percent of the vote in favor of the design with 18,313 yes votes. There were 4,464 no votes cast.

Following the former state flag, which included Confederate symbols, being repealed as the official flag in July, a commission was formed to select a new design to be placed on this year’s ballot for the residents of Mississippi to vote for. If the design had not received a majority vote then the process would have started over for next year’s ballot and Mississippi would have continued to not have an official flag.

Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill was one of the nine members selected to the commission and helped select the Magnolia design. Oxford’s Kara Giles helped with the final design that was approved by the commission to be placed on the ballot.

“The voters of Mississippi have confirmed that we are ready to move forward,” Tannehill said in a statement to the EAGLE. “I am thrilled that we will have the opportunity to fly a flag we can all be proud of. It is an exciting day for our State. We are flying the new flag proudly over City buildings.”

The University of Mississippi raised the new state flag early Wednesday morning on the Lyceum Circle and in font of The Pavilion.

Lafayette County was strongly in favor of legalizing medial marijuana in the state with Initiative 65. Over 15,600 Lafayette County voters were in favor of either Initiative 65 or 65A, which was an alternative measure placed on the ballot by the Mississippi Legislature.

There were 13,558 voters in favor of Initiative 65, which changes the Mississippi Constitution to legally allow the distribution of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The program is anticipated to be up and running by August of next year.

In state elections, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith defeated Mike Espy for a second time. Smith received 11,994 votes in Lafayette County to Espy’s 10,636. In the District 1 race for the U.S. House of Representatives, incumbent Trent Kelly defeated Antonia Eliason, receiving 60.4 percent of the vote in Lafayette County to Eliason’s nearly 40 percent.