Sunday, June 4, 2023

Eight Toss Hat Into First Lafayette County Court Judge Election

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

The qualifying period for the 2022 election ended last week for a handful of mostly judicial races for Lafayette County.

For the first time, Lafayette County will have a County Court after the Nov. 8 election when voters will elect the first County Court Judge.

Eight local attorneys have qualified to run for the new seat. They include Steve Jubera, James B. Justice, Cornelia Fondren, Thomas A. Waller, Josh Turner, Ray Garrett, Tiffany Kilpatrick and Christine Tatum.

According to the State Mississippi Judiciary’s website, County Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over eminent domain proceedings and juvenile matters, among other things.

The County Court will be held inside the Lafayette County Courthouse.

Circuit Court judges qualify with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office. According to the SOS’s website, Third Circuit Judges Gray Tollison, Kent Smith and Kelly Luther have qualified to run to retain their seats at the bench.

The only contested judicial race is for Luther’s seat. Shirley Byers has qualified to run against Luther. It won’t be the first time the two have gone head-to-head. Byers has run and lost against Luther twice since 2014. It will be the third time their names will appear together on a ballot.

In the race for Chancery Judge in Lafayette County, both Judge Larry Little and Bob Whitwell have qualified and neither have any opponents.

U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) has also qualified to retain his seat in Washington D.C. He will face James McCay, who qualified as an Independent. Democrat Hunter Avery has declared his intent to run as well against Kelly.

Circuit Court of Appeal Judge for District 1 Jim Greenlee has also qualified to run and is unopposed.

The primary will be on June 7 with the runoff on June 28. The general election is on Nov. 8.