Following two retirement announcements in the state senate, candidates have emerged to represent east Mississippi districts just as the legislative session begins for 2019.
In Southern Lauderdale County and Clarke County, Lauderdale Election Commissioner Jeff Tate has qualified to follow the steps of Videt Carmichael while Tyler McCaughn will run to succeed Terry Burton in Northwest Lauderdale County, Newton County and Scott County.
On the first day of the 2019 session, longtime District 33 Senator Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian, announced he wouldn't seek re-election. Carmichael, 68, has served since 2000.
Tate, who will hold a formal announcement at 3 p.m. Thursday before the Lauderdale County Courthouse, has served as an election commissioner for a decade.
"I enjoy serving the people as an election commissioner and I think we've done a good job. With the Circuit Clerk's Office, I think we've done a good job of running fair elections," Tate said. "I always wanted to see myself in a greater role to be of better service to the people."
Tate said that with two young girls of his own, he wanted to improve the area to keep his daughters close to home as they grew up.
"I would like the opportunity to go to the legislature and see what we can do to make life better for the next generation," Tate said.
Though early in the campaign, Tate said his experience as a business owner would shape his experience in the legislature.
"In running a few different businesses, I would like to find ways to help the state government make running a business more conducive," Tate said, saying he supported less regulations for businesses.
In a planned door-to-door campaign, Tate said he looked forward to meeting the residents of Lauderdale and Clarke counties and hearing the issues that matter most to them.
"I want to thank the voters of Lauderdale County for trusting me these last 10 years to run their elections," Tate said. "I would be honored to serve the people in Jackson."
McCaughn announced his intention to fill the seat of retiring senator Terry Burton, R-Newton, in District 33, which covers Newton and Scott counties as well as a portion of Lauderdale County. Burton, 62, has held office since January 1992.
Born and raised in Scott County, McCaughn has practiced law in Newton County for 11 years, working for clients in all three counties.
"I've been able to see all across the district, the problems we're dealing with," McCaughn said. "When people don't know what to do they go to an attorney... and in this practice, you're more of a problem solver."
Because of his community investment, McCaughn said he decided to run and do his part to better District 33.
"Terry Burton has been a good advocate for us. We're good friends," McCaughn said. "I think we can do even better."
McCaughn, a cattle farmer and bee keeper, said he would focus on three key areas: infrastructure, education and agriculture.
"If we don't have infrastructure, we don't have that supply line for manufacturers," McCaughn said. "We've got to do something to keep our citizens safe on the roadways."
McCaughn said he hoped the current legislative session accomplished educational initiatives before he joined but credited his teachers for his achievements.
"I wouldn't be here without the help of my teachers," McCaughn said. "I'd like to definitely be there for all of our district – Northwest Lauderdale County, Newton County and Scott County."
Within Lauderdale County, qualifying candidates include:
Supervisors: Incumbent Supervisors Johnathan Wells, of District 1; Wayman Newell, of District 2; Josh Todd, of District 3; and Kyle Rutledge, of District 5, all filed as Republicans. Loretta "LoLo Allen" Bennett filed as a Democrat in District 2.
Sheriff: Billy Sollie (Incumbent) - Republican.
Coroner: Clayton Cobler (Incumbent) - Republican.
Tax Assessor: James Rainey (Incumbent) - Republican.
Tax Collector: Doris Spidle (Incumbent) - Republican.
County Attorney: Tommy Horne - Republican.
Justice Court Judges
District 1: Ricky Roberts (Incumbent) -Republican.
District 2: Ondray Harris, Sr. (Incumbent) - Democrat.
District 3: Paul Earley II (Incumbent) - Republican.
District 4: Van Goodman- Republican; Buck Roberts- Republican.
District 1: Tommie Coker (Incumbent) - Republican.
District 2: Ondray Harris, Jr. (Incumbent) - Democrat. Chris McFarland, also a Democrat, has qualified to run against Harris.
District 3: Mike Myers (Incumbent) - Republican.
District 4: Chuck Roberts (Incumbent) - Republican.
The Secretary of State's office handles qualifying for the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, auditor, commissioner of agriculture and commerce, transportation commissioners, public service commissioners, district attorney, state senators and state representatives.
The deadline to register to vote in the August primary is 5 p.m. on July 8.