McComb Democratic Executive Committee Chair Amanda Upchurch was seen with campaign signs for mayoral candidate Zach Patterson this weekend and elected officials and citizens have addressed concerns with state officials.
Incumbent Mayor Quordiniah Lockley, who faces Patterson in today’s primary runoff, announced he would be raising his concerns with Mississippi Democratic Party Chair Tyree Irving and Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson’s office about Upchurch’s apparent support of Patterson.
“Understand that this is a party issue,” Lockley said. “I will raise this with the chairman of the Democratic Party. I also will notify the Secretary of State’s Office of her actions. Not that anything will or can be done, but I’m going to make it known.”
Lockley specifically said he would be contacting Irving because it is a Democratic Party issue.
“I don’t know if anything will be done, but I do want them to put on notice of her involvement supporting a candidate when she is supposed to be neutral in this election,” Lockley said.
Lockley and Patterson tied with 474 votes (34%) in the May 3 primary and the winner of the runoff will face independent Michael Cameron, also the current Ward 2 selectman, in the general election.
Lockley said he hopes Upchurch resigns from her position and does not take part in overseeing today’s runoff.
“The Democratic Executive Committee chairperson is supposed to be neutral,” he said. “This is a clear indication that she is not neutral. Therefore, I’m of the opinion she needs to excuse herself from the position, resign.
“That’s just my opinion. It causes me to question any and all decisions that have been made by her in this election.”
It is not the first time Lockley and Upchurch expressed differences of opinion about the primary process.
Upchurch scheduled a debate for the Democratic candidates at the Martin Luther King Center April 28. Patterson was the only candidate to attend. Lockley said he did not like that Upchurch scheduled the debate without asking him if he could make it at that time.
Warren Ellis Gilmore, a former selectman, expressed his concerns about Upchurch having Patterson’s campaign signs. Gilmore posted two pictures on Facebook purporting to show Upchurch at Patterson’s campaign headqquarters on Summit Street carrying his signs.
“Can anyone explain why self-appointed party chairman, Amanda Upchurch, who is the person responsible for certifying the runoff election, is working for a candidate?” Gilmore wrote in a post on Facebook. “She is not allowed to campaign for either candidate in a primary or runoff election. This definitely should be investigated.”
Democratic mayoral candidate Shawn Williams, the current Ward 4 selectman who barely missed the runoff with 446 votes (31.9%), commented on Gilmore’s post through his own campaign page.
Williams’ comment was, “Wow,” and he shared the post on his campaign page. He had already requested a recount of the votes after his close third-place finish.
Patterson, Williams, Irving, Gilmore, and Upchurch did not return messages on Monday. The Secretary of State’s Office didn’t respond to an email by presstime Monday, either.