Now that the 2020 November General Election has come and gone, Mississippi voters have another round of elections to consider – who will represent your city or town for the next four years.
While the White House and Congress may be unable to reach agreement no matter how Election 2020 ends, it will be local communities and state governments that feel the impact of federal actions most through bureaucratic rules handed down from the various federal agencies outside of the legislative process.
Local leaders who understand government, policy, and politics are needed to help their municipality navigate through the noise and ensure that their locale is well represented and adhering to state and federal mandates, while also advocating on behalf of their constituents and providing the services citizens expect.
It is a tall order that often goes overlooked. Local elections can be more of a popularity contest than a referendum on who is most qualified. There is far less vetting of candidates, less debating issues, and more old fashioned retail politics with “your mom and them” on the porch swing.
Yet, local leaders are where the government rubber meets the road, so to speak, and these elections should be given as much, if not more, consideration than those for higher offices.
These local offices are not given the attention they deserve, but are equally as important as state and national elections, perhaps more so in terms of everyday life. Municipal officials determine local taxes, provide police and fire protection, supply utilities such as water and gas, make sure the trash is picked up and maintain roads, negotiate economic development packages and support local businesses, and much more. Depending on where you live, city leaders even appoint school board members who make decisions on how schools are funded, teachers are paid, and what curriculum is taught.
Municipal elections in Mississippi are the only elections on the calendar in 2021, barring any special elections that may arise. That means nearly every village, town and city across the state will hold elections for mayor, councilman/alderman/selectmen, and other local offices next year, save a handful of cities that are on a different election calendar.
In partisan terms, Democrats still control many municipal offices, especially in the Delta and in both central and northern Mississippi. Republicans made gains in the 2017 municipal cycle, flipping long-term Democrat strongholds and welcoming party switchers. Given the trends, this is likely to continue in the 2021 cycle.
According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s voter information guide, qualifying for municipal offices opens in January, with Primary Elections scheduled for April 6, 2021 and the General Election set for June 8, 2021.
New local leaders would assume office in early July 2021.