Candidates all previously ran as independents allowing for a mayor to win with less than 50% of the vote and conservative candidates essentially cancelling each other out, supporters say.

The 2018 municipal election in the City of Carthage, Mississippi, saw a mayor win office by drawing roughly 38% of the vote. That did not sit well with a number of voters in the area.

Add in the political bent of the winner, and that prompted Republicans in the area to work to form their own municipal committee to give conservative candidates a fighting chance at the ballot box instead of cancelling each other out when in a crowded field of three or more independent candidates.

Locals were determined to run candidates under the GOP banner in the 2022 city races instead of merely running all candidates as Independents, a longstanding practice in the municipality.

Carthage is one of the Mississippi municipalities that hold their city/town elections the year after the majority of municipal elections are held due to their special charter.

The effort to hold a Republican Primary in the city faced more than a little push back from some at Carthage City Hall as “it wasn’t how things had been done,” including from city attorney Barbara Blackmon.  Blackmon is currently a Democrat State Senator who has served in the Legislature at various times over the last 30 years.  She now represents Senate District 21 which covers the counties of Attala, Holmes, Leake, Madison, and Yazoo.

However, the Carthage and Leake County Republicans jumped through the hoops and were successful in their endeavor, forming a municipal committee in this year’s municipal elections with advice from the Mississippi Republican Party.

Today, Carthage is holding its first ever Republican Primary in the city.

“We’ve never had a primary in the city of Carthage,” Leake County Republican chairman Jeremy Belk told Y’all Politics on Tuesday.  “The nexus for this happened three and a half years ago when three individuals ran for mayor and one won with some 38% of the vote.”

At the heart of the effort to implement a Republican Primary was the fact that the incumbent mayor won without gaining fifty percent plus one vote, calling into question whether the winner truly had the support of a majority of voters.

Also, at issue and up for discussion was the ability for voters in the area to more readily be able to identify a candidate’s underlying political philosophy.

By running as an Independent, residents told Y’all Politics that candidates could essentially play hide the ball in terms of how they thought about fiscal responsibility, social priorities, and other hot button topics on the local, state and national political scene.

“Being identified with a political party often speaks volumes of how a candidate will vote on the most basic things,” one resident said who did not want to be named. “It gives voters a glimpse into what motivates a candidate if they do get elected.”

Cindy Crane is a proud “lifetime Carthaginian.” She told Y’all Politics that it was great to have a Republican Primary to help ensure that voters could make a better, more informed decision.

“I care about my hometown and I’m concerned about it,” Crane said. “I think it’s a great idea to have the Republican Primary. The Democrats running as Independents really want to hang on to [power].”

Crane says the city, like most others, has issues with infrastructure and roads but the leadership is just not there in the mayor’s office.

“We should be doing better,” Crane said, noting that having a Republican Primary was a step in the right direction.

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Candidates in today’s Carthage Republican Primary are:

Mayor

Russell Baty
Mike Cochran
Laurie Henderson

Ward 1 Alderman

Britt Barnes

Ward 3 Aldermen

Robin Burgess

Ward 4 Alderman

Josh Stokes

Other candidates in the Carthage Municipal Election that move on to the General as Independents are:

Mayor

Mary Ann Vivians (Incumbent)

Ward 1 Alderman

Miracle Matlock (Incumbent)

Ward 2 Aldermen

Marcus Williams

Ward 3 Alderman

Vanessa Simmons

Ward 4 Alderman

Luis Montgomery