The most closely-contested race in the Nov. 5 general election has been decided with the DeSoto County Election Commission certifying the House District 40 vote between Republican state Rep. Ashley Henley and Democratic challenger Hester Jackson-McCray.
Jackson-McCray was determined to be the victor in the race, outpolling the incumbent House member Henley by a 14-vote margin, 1,553 to 1,539.
Not only does the outcome oust an incumbent member of the House, but it also means that Jackson-McCray, age 58, becomes the first African-American state representative from DeSoto County.
In the unofficial results from Nov. 5, Jackson-McCray won by 13 votes with Henley then challenging the vote totals.
Both candidates were on hand as the Election Commissioners earlier this week went about the process of recounting the votes and determining the final outcome, which gave Jackson-McCray one additional vote.
Election Commissioner Danny Klein said Friday Henley may still plan to ask that the election boxes be rechecked, but that would be an issue she would have to take up with the DeSoto County Circuit Clerk’s office.
Jackson-McCray, a resident of Horn Lake, is a grandmother of eight who has attempted to be elected on four previous occasions. She was a 31-year career nurse but had to stop working when complications developed with a total knee replacement surgery. Jackson-McCray has been involved in a catering business as she has supported herself and six grandchildren living with her, according to a news release.
Public education support and backing of teacher pay raises were a foundation of her campaign in her district, which includes precincts in Horn Lake and in Southaven.
In reviewing the final results, Henley won in Colonial Hills (73.57 percent), and in Southaven West (51.18 percent), but Jackson-McCray attracted more votes in Horn Lake North (56.14 percent), Southaven South (64.6 percent), Horn Lake East (59.0 percent), and Horn Lake West (50.31 percent).
With the results now certified, Jackson-McCray becomes the only Democratic representative in the state Legislature representing the heavily-conservative DeSoto County.
Henley, a Southaven resident, served one term in the state Legislature and was vice-chair of the House Military Affairs Committee. She was elected in the 2016 general election, defeating Jackson-McCray with nearly 68 percent of the vote, after ousting former state Rep. Pat Nelson in the Republican primary.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.