The municipalities of Montgomery County will have new leadership in the mayors’ offices.
The voters have spoken and ushered in change by unseating longtime incumbent mayors Jerry Flowers in Winona and Joey Cooley in Duck Hill. Bryan Lott was the winner of Kilmichael’s election for the open mayoral seat, as incumbent Bobby Howell announced his retirement earlier this year.
City of Winona
In Winona, businessman Aaron Dees was elected mayor with 770 votes, not including 42 outstanding affidavit votes from Tuesday’s election. Flowers received 447 votes and Colt Tabor received 83 votes.
Incumbent Aldermen David Ware of Ward 4 and Sarah A. Minnieweather of Ward 5 were also unseated Tuesday, with challengers Charles Harris, Jr. receiving 187 votes in Ward 4 to Ware’s 114 and Linda Purnell receiving 167 votes to Minnieweather’s 117 votes.
All vote results are uncertified.
“With Gods help and a new board, we can all pull together to make Winona a better place!” Dees stated Wednesday in a social media post. “I appreciate the VOTE of confidence that you all have in me! I will work diligently to better Winona! Work daily to put Winona on the MAP where she should be! With GOD leading the way in wisdom and knowledge we can and will make Winona a great place! Thanks again to all!”
As the election results were revealed Tuesday evening at Winona City Hall, Dees enjoyed the victory with many of his supporters and newly-elected aldermen Harris, Purnell, and Sylvia Clark, who unseated incumbent alderman Kelvin Winbush for the Ward 3 seat in April’s Democratic Primary Election. The four campaigned together on the platform of bringing change to Winona’s elected leadership.
Dees thanked Harris, Purnell, and Clark as well as his many supporters.
“I want to thank my wife and soulmate, Paula Dees, and my children Lori Wilson, Jamey Wilson, Katelyn Le'Anna Anderson, Vidal Anderson, and Landon Dees for standing by me all the way through this process!” Dees stated.
Flowers, who has served as mayor since February 2007, said his “greatest honor” was serving as Winona’s mayor for the past 14 years.
“I want to say thanks from the bottom of my heart to the citizens of Winona for giving me the privilege to serve as their mayor for over 14 years,” Flowers said. “Greatest honor in my life after God and my family.”
Flowers also thanked the employees of the City of Winona for their service to the city.
“I want to thank the hard working city employees from city hall, to our police and firemen, street and water crews. These are great employees who are as big a part of this community as I am. Also, a big shout out goes to City Clerk June Williams, Street Superintendent Tony Palmertree, Fire Chief Brad Mooneyham, Parks Director Mike Narmour, Chief of Police Tommy Bibbs, and Water Superintendent Frank Faulkner, my hardworking department heads who are the best in the State of Mississippi. Lastly, I want to thank my wife, Becky, for standing beside me all these years along with my three children, Rachel, Butler, and Lexie.”
Tabor, the manager of a Grenada retailer, finished third in the race. Like Dees, this is Tabor’s first time to seek election to public office.
“This election was a learning experience, and I was greatly honored to share the ballot with Mayor-elect Dees and outgoing Mayor Jerry Flowers,” Tabor said. “This was my first time seeking public office, but I can assure you it will not be my last. I love our city and serving others. I wish the mayor-elect nothing but success and pray for God’s will to be done in our city under our new officials.”
Forty-seven percent of Winona’s elected voters turned out Tuesday to cast their ballots, with 1,190 voting Tuesday, 117 voting absentee, and 42 voting by affidavit.
According to Winona City Clerk June Williams, Winona’s Election Commission saw only “routine” issues during Tuesday’s election, mainly people not knowing their voting precinct. Williams said there was one issue of a campaign worker “being overzealous in his efforts,” but that issue was quickly resolved.
This election year, the City of Winona participated in a pilot program to test the Voting Works Election Manager and Central Ballot Scanner program.
“I thought everything went smooth,” Williams said. “All of the election commissioners liked it as well.”
By participating in the pilot program, Voting Works printed all the city’s paper ballots and provided a Central Ballot Scanner for commissioners to count the vote, all at no cost to the city.
“There was only one ballot thrown out,” Williams said. “And that was just the mayor’s race because [the voter] marked two candidates. The alderman race was counted.”
On Wednesday morning, election commissioners were counting affidavit ballots. Only one of those affidavit ballots were due to a voter not having a photo identification card. That voter has five days to present an identification to the city for the vote to be counted.
Williams also said there are 20 absentee ballots that have not yet been returned. Absentee voters must postmark their ballots for June 8, and ballots are given five days to be received at city hall to be counted.
Town of Kilmichael
In Kilmichael, after longtime mayor Bobby Howell announced his retirement, current Kilmichael Alderman Bryan Lott and political newcomer Jim Collins faced off in the town’s only contested race.
Lott defeated Collins, 125 to 48. Kilmichael Municipal Election Commissioners are still working to certify the election, and it’s currently unknown as to how many affidavits ballots have been cast.
Lott comes in with experience in municipal leadership, serving as aldermen since 2009.
Along with a new mayor, Kilmichael will also see two new aldermen that will be sworn into office at the July meeting.
Marcus Lawson and Clay Eldridge both ran unopposed in the general election for seats on the Kilmichael Board of Aldermen. They join incumbent aldermen Earnest Curtis, Bernard Daniels and Wilma Carodine.
“I would like to thank the citizens of Kilmichael for electing me as mayor,” Lott said. “I look forward to working with a great board, great employees, and all the great citizens.”
Lott said he is ready to get to work with the incoming board of aldermen
“I am already in process of planning a day where the town and even the community can come meet the town officials and employees. I just want people to know who we all are and who they can contact when they need something. You would be surprised how many people don’t know who their alderman is, and I would like to see that change. I know that seems small, but I think good relations in the town will help in several ways. There is no one person that can make things better by their self you have to do it as a team, and I think we have a great team and we all have Kilmichael’s best interests at heart.”
Town of Duck Hill
In Duck Hill, former alderman and non-profit executive direct Al White defeated longtime incumbent Joey Cooley in the race for Duck Hill mayor. White took an early lead and pulled ahead of the five-man candidate field. He continued to lead throughout the night and was victorious at the end.
According to Tuesday night’s unofficial results, White received 89 votes, Cooley received 39 votes, Frankie Curtis received 43 votes, Tyrone Harbin received 47 votes, and Randy Everett received 3 votes.
In the at-large alderman race, Duck Hill’s four incumbent alderwomen will be joined by newcomer Christopher Caldwell, Sr. Caldwell will replace Lavonda Farmer, who served on the board for 20 years and did not seek re-election.
In the alderman/alderwoman race, Lula Brown led the pack with 171 votes, followed by Cynthia Brown-Kountz with 165, Linda Bennett with 158, Shernell Brown-Everett with 133, Caldwell with 144 and Tommy Earl White with 103.
Duck Hill has 20 affidavit votes currently outstanding, but those votes will not affect the results of the race.
White comes in with experience, having previously served on the board of aldermen for the Town of Duck Hill and has worked to help the Town of Duck Hill acquire grants. White recently received a grant to paint a mural depicting Duck Hill’s most famous residents, a marker honoring the legacy of Lucie E. Campbell, and a grant through ASEEDS to help the town deal with its flooding issues.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their support and I’m looking forward to moving Duck Hill forward in a positive direction,” White said.
Cooley has served as Duck Hill’s mayor for 25 years and expressed his gratitude to the citizens of Duck Hill.
“It’s been a blessing to be able to serve the Town of Duck Hill for 25 years. We’ve been able to see a lot of changes. The town is in a great place financially, our infrastructure is in great shape, and Duck Hill will continue to move forward. I’m grateful to be able to serve and lead the people for 25 years and I think the town will continue to progress,” Cooley said.
He said there are projects in the works that he’ll discuss with the current board that he believes they will be able to make happen.
“My wife put it in perspective for me this morning. She told me that I’d served for two decades, that’s half my life, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to put that time back into my family. I think Al will do a great job. He has board and leadership experience, he’s well connected, and I think those things will serve him well,” Cooley said.