With the start of a new year, a new term begins for DeSoto County officials elected during the November general election.
Sunday afternoon, Dec. 29, those elected officials were sworn into office during a ceremony in the main courtroom of the DeSoto County Courthouse in Hernando.
The process of being sworn in for nearly all of the those involved Sunday afternoon was a repeat event, as all but two of them won re-election in November.
Those who stood in front of Senior Chancery Court Judge Percy Lynchard Jr. for the first time were new DeSoto County Supervisor Ray Denison and new County Tax Assessor Jeff Fitch.
Denison was elected to the seat left open with the retirement of long-time Supervisor Bill Russell, and Fitch, who had worked in the Assessor’s office under retiring Tax Assessor Parker Pickle, was elected to fill that open seat.
Lynchard took the opportunity before the administering of the oath of office to each person to talk about what people of DeSoto County will expect from their elected leaders.
He noted how DeSoto County has gone without a property tax increase for the past 16 years but still is blessed with excellent quality of life.
“The people of DeSoto County demand the finest roads, facilities and services,” Lynchard said. “But we know that demand must be tempered by our ability to pay. We want government leaders who will be prudent with spending our tax dollars.”
Lynchard also observed how DeSoto County lives in relative safety compared to Memphis and mentioned a perceived lack of interest of the county from the Mississippi capital city of Jackson.
“The people of DeSoto County are independent people,” Lynchard noted. “We don’t care how they do it up north, in Memphis, and Jackson seems to forget that we are part of this great state, unless, of course, they’re having a statewide election and they send the politicians up here by the dozens.”
He followed that by admonishing criminals that it was likely not a good idea to consider the county as a place to consider illegal activities.
“We don’t care to see DeSoto County become a haven for criminals and the killing fields that Memphis and Jackson have become,” Lynchard warned. "Those who want to come here and live outside the law, I issue this warning: do not come to DeSoto County. Our justice will be swift and it will be harsh. We don’t believe in rehabilitation without some sort of punishment.”
The list of county officials taking office for their terms, beginning in January, are Supervisors Jessie Medlin, Mark Gardner, Denison, Lee Caldwell, and Michael Lee; Sheriff Bill Rasco; Tax Collector Joel Treadway; Tax Assessor Fitch; County Attorney Jim Holland; County Coroner Josh Pounders; Circuit Clerk Dale Kelly Thompson; Chancery Clerk Misty Taylor Heffner; Justice Court Judges Ken Adams, Larry Vaughn, Billy Lantrip, Brad Russell, and Karen Sanders; and Constables Lawrence Vaughn Jr., Mitzi Hodge, Keith Combes, Bobby Holloway, and Lee Hodge.
Newly-elected Northern District Transportation Commissioner John Caldwell was also sworn into his new position on Sunday afternoon.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.