BLACK HAWK -- Jesse Salter, one of approximately 400 who worked the sweltering midway June 22 during the Old-Fashioned Political Rally, hadn’t yet taken the podium to ask Beat 2 voters to consider his candidacy for supervisor. He might’ve been pleasantly surprised to find out he hadn’t melted before he climbed the steps of the bandstand.
Like many others who either hope to get votes later this summer or fall, Salter worked the midway. Some who’d been sighted during the long afternoon never did make it to the gaily decorated stage. The first speaker, however, was a woman and a Democrat, former Army officer Velesha P. Williams, who’s running for governor.
Bill Lord, who’s long emceed the rally at Black Hawk, relied on several women working the registration tent just west of the stage. A group of musicians, led by Bobby Joe Alford, kept things going when candidates weren’t immediately forthcoming. Several times, the favorite, “Carroll County Blues,” could be heard -- likely accented by the fiddle by Sayles “Bushy” Martin, one of the few great old-timers who know how to play that tune.
Seating was judiciously arranged this year, more so than in years past. Inmates from the county jail at Vaiden had taken the wood pews from inside the auditorium of the Black Hawk School House and arranged them v-like, facing the stage, and after the event ended, carefully replaced then, walking those steep steps and through the door from the porch.
This reporter had more than one episode of déjà vu. Bob Waller, son of former governor Bill Waller, was set up early with wife, Margaret, on his mission to speak on behalf of his brother, William “Bill” Waller, Jr., who was otherwise engaged in Columbia. The Wallers had begun at Burgess in Lafayette County, a community out near the Panola County line, and Bob Waller said he and his siblings spent time there when they were growing up, too. This reporter was fresh out of the “W” and working for the Oxford newspaper when Bill Senior won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1971. Bill Junior, however, is running in the Republican Primary.
Stanley “Sugar” Mullins and Charles Ellis, two veteran campaigners, were at the rally, too, though Ellis’s tenure as circuit clerk ended when Durward Stanton won election in 2003, and Mullins, who succeeded the late Ralph Self as chancery clerk, isn’t running either in 2019. Lots of folks angling for Sugar’s job, and Stanton has one opponent, Chuck Elliott.
Elliott, who brought a red-handled broom with him onstage, added he doesn’t mean he’ll fire all current circuit clerk staffers if he unseats Stanton. He said he thinks he can run the office more efficiently and said he’ll continue his own tradition of being a stickler for detail.
Stanton said he’ll maintain the integrity of the circuit clerk’s office and continue “transparent elections.” There have been zero contested elections during his 16 years in office, he said. Of the current race, Stanton said while he’s “not real thrilled (Chuck Elliott) is trying to take my job” he doesn’t have any animosity for Elliott.
Candidates for tax assessor, chancery clerk, and sheriff were among those taking their pleas to Black Hawk Saturday.
Clint Walker, the current sheriff, said he believes he fulfilled his promises to the people that elected him four years ago, including stabilizing the correctional center’s finances and staffing.
David Mims asked voters to remember his 18 years of service in law enforcement that began under the late Sheriff Don Gray. He wants to bring back the “small town feeling to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department,” Mims said. “Don Gray taught me to get out and learn the people and let them learn you, because they’ll be the ones who back you up.”
Paul Henderson, vice-chairman of the Carroll County Republicans, capped the speaking by asking the people to “vote Republican.”