The Republican and Democratic Parties in Hinds County both plan to hold primary elections leading up to the General Election in November for two Supervisor positions. Al Hunter and Robert Walker currently hold the District 2 and 4 seats, respectively. Neither plans to run for the permanent spot.
But Robert Graham, President of the Board of Supervisors, says the county can't foot the bill for a primary, and doesn't have to.
In letters to each party chairperson, Supervisor Graham cites Mississippi Code 19-11-15 which states that a Board of Supervisors' budget must not exceed the amount estimated for items. Graham says a primary election is not in the current year's budget.
The party leaders are fighting back.
"Chairman Perry and myself, we're collaborating on this," says Jacquie Amos-Norris, who heads up the County Democratic Party. "He doesn't have a choice but to pay."
"There are funds there," Amos-Norris goes on to state. "How far they want to go with this, that's on them, but we're preparing for an election."
Pete Perry chairs the County Republican Party.
"I don't know if Mr. Graham can rewrite the law just like he wants to," Perry states. "Take some of the money that he wasted on the Airwave contract. He could find money for this."
Airwave, LLC is a local company that holds a maintenance contract for the county's communication system. In the past, several Supervisors have voted to discontinue the contract due to work performance issues.
Perry and Amos-Norris say the same law that Supervisor Graham cites also states that exceptions will be made for election expenses. Another law, Mississippi Code 23-15-301, states that election expenses shall be paid for by the Board of Supervisors.
Hinds County Election Commissioner Connie Cochran estimates the cost of the primaries at roughly $45,000. She says she has talked to Supervisor Graham, and the matter will be brought up at the next board meeting.
Supervisor Graham stated he would have a statement by Friday afternoon when a request was made for an on-camera interview regarding the topic.
District 5 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes says the expenditure might lead to county employee furloughs. He opposes the county funding the primary.
"If they feel the county's doing them wrong, let's let a judge make a determination," Stokes says.
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