Magnolia and Tylertown will hold primaries Tuesday, with the outcome of some races determining who will represent residents for the next four years.
In Magnolia, the Democratic primary will include contested seats for wards 2 and 3 and alderman at-large.
Ward 2 incumbent Alderman Clarence Burton Jr. faces Dorothy Dillon.
Burton, 57, a self-employed landscaper, grave digger and house builder who also works in real estate, is in his first term. He cited roadwork and improving public facilities as the biggest accomplishments of his first term.
“I feel like I’m a big part of the city’s growing. I have not voted against any of the stuff that we have done to help the city grow,” he said. “I want to continue to be part of growing the city.”
Dillon, 79, is retired from the Mississippi Adolescent Center in Brookhaven. She’d like to see more educational opportunities and activities for Magnolia’s youth.
“If there was something for them to get involved in, that would help them improve their lives where they could really live here in Magnolia and enjoy it,” she said, adding that improvements to the water system and to run-down properties are also needed.
In Ward 3, incumbent Alderman Antonio Martin faces opposition from Gloria Martin, no relation. The winner will face Terry Jackson, who is running as an independent, in the June general election.
“I just want to serve my community. I see some changes that could be made,” said Gloria Martin, 59, adding that abandoned houses and clogged ditches need attention.
Antonio Martin did not respond to requests for comment.
For the at-large position, incumbent Alderman Darrell Pounds will face Clinton Rosa.
“I’ve always wanted to feel I was doing something for the citizens of Magnolia and see if we could improve the quality of life in the town,” said Rosa, 27. “I would like to see the voices of the citizens heard a little more. I’d like for the citizens to be able to come before the board and be able to state their needs.”
Incumbent Darrell Pounds was not available for comment.
The Republican primary will include the Ward 4 contest between incumbent Alderman Joseph Cornacchione and James Hughes.
Cornacchione, 62, teaches at Southwest Mississippi Community College and runs a home inspection and property rental business. He’s in his second term. His proposition for a farmers market pavilion has been one of his proudest accomplishments in that time, he said.
He also noted his work to secure a new city storage facility and advocate for the installation of the community playground near South Pike High School.
If elected for a third term, he wants to bring more businesses to Magnolia and bring more improvements to the park.
“My goal is to make sure that we capitalize on a town that’s small, quaint and keep it clean,” Cornacchione said.
Hughes, 39, a pest control technician, said he thinks potholes need to be filled and the rights-of-way need to be cleaned up and so do abandoned houses.
“I see stuff that needs to be done,” he said. “I want to serve the community, help make a difference, try to do some better things, try to get some different things done that may not have gotten done in the past.”
Property tax, which has risen by 9 mills over the past five years, was a mostly unifying issue among the candidates who spoke this week.
Cornacchione has voted against raising property taxes in office and maintains his opposition to increasing them.
Burton, who voted in favor of raising the tax by 1 mill in 2017 and 5 mills in 2018, said he won’t support raising them again.
Antonio Martin and Pounds voted in favor of the 5-mill increase in 2018.
Dillon and Hughes were also opposed to the idea. Martin and Rosa said they would need to talk to the board or the public before deciding.
Ward 1 Democratic incumbent Alderwoman Becky Magee is uncontested.
State Sen. Tammy Witherspoon, a Democrat, and businesswoman Mercedes Ricks, an independent, will face off in the mayor’s race in June.
All of Tylertown’s incumbent officials are seeking another term in office this year.
Four of those six will have a challenger in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, which will decide the next term’s officeholders, as all candidates filed as Democrats.
Mayor Ed Hughes, first elected in 1989, will try for another term against Jasper Howard.
Three aldermen also face competition for another term, with Ward 1 incumbent Doug Walker set to face off against Johnathan McEwen; Ward 4 incumbent Carolyn Magee being challenged by Curtis Hart Magee; and at-large incumbent Mary Lib Duncan squaring off against former county supervisor Fred Magee Jr.
Carolyn Magee was first elected to the town board in 1993. Walker was elected in 2009, and Duncan joined the board mid-term after the 2009 election.
Fred Lambert, the Ward 3 incumbent first elected in 2013, will return for a third term in office unopposed.
Stormy Jefferson, the Ward 2 incumbent, is also unopposed and seeking her first full term. She joined the board in November 2019 after a special election called to replace Denson Case, who died in office.