It was the county candidates’ turn to face Republican supporters Thursday night, as the DeSoto County Republican Club and the DeSoto County Republican Women jointly held a forum to introduce their party hopefuls at the local level.
A large group of GOP backers filled the BankPlus Training Center in Southaven to hear from those running for county offices in the August primary or November general election. Each candidate who spoke took the opportunity to tell about themselves, why they are running, and in the case of incumbents, some of what they have accomplished while in office.
The evening was not formatted to be a debate but rather an introductory message for those who wanted to be informed on the people running and why they were in the race.
One of the races of interest is that of County Sheriff, where current Sheriff Bill Rasco is facing a challenge from Hernando Police Chief Scott Worsham. With no Democrat running for the office, the primary vote will ultimately decide who will be the next top law enforcement officer in DeSoto County.
Rasco spoke about his accomplishments and on areas he wants to place more focus.
“More resource officers in our schools is a thing we’ve got to have and I’m going to make sure we do that in every way possible,” said Rasco. “Another thing we’ve been working on is our drug situation. We’ve going to make sure this county is safe, as drug-free as possible and do everything we can to make our kids safe.”
Worsham said becoming sheriff has been a goal for him, while also saying he enjoys his work as head of the Hernando Police Department.
“When I set out to do this, I set out for one goal and that is for this county,” Worsham said. “With my career, my drive and my education in law enforcement, when I put on the uniform every day I serve the people of this county. I do this because I love this county.”
Another race that has garnered interest is the run for Tax Assessor between Jeff Fitch and Roger Palmer. Fitch has experience working in current Tax Assessor Parker Pickle’s office for several year.
Palmer, Fitch’s opponent, has owned and operated Olive Branch Realty & Appraisal Service Inc.
Fitch said one indicator of the county’s success has come from the work the Tax Assessor’s office has done.
“The reason we have not had a tax increase is because we have $11.1 billion in appraised value and we do our jobs,” Fitch explained. “We keep up with the growth.”
“I believe the lessons that I have learned in the private sector over the last 30 years will be very beneficial in making some of the tough decisions that the office will require,” Palmer countered. “If elected, I’ll bring new technologies and new ideas to the tax assessor’s office.”
All three candidates for the Supervisor District 3 office spoke. Ray Denison, Charlie Hoots and Bobby Glen Reed explained their background, with Denison saying, “I’m going to be an advocate for DeSoto County.”
Hoots, a current Southaven alderman, expects to bring a fresh perspective to a board he felt is working well now.
“I’m more interactive with my residents and neighbors and what their needs are and I take that very seriously,” Hoots explained. “I believe in being responsive and available.”
Reed was right to the point about what he wanted to see done, if elected, including tax breaks for wounded veterans and first responders.
“I will push and I will vote and work hard so that no wounded warrior, no disabled veteran, no firefighter, law enforcement or first responder who has been injured or their spouse if they have been killed in the line of duty should ever have to pay taxes on their homestead or their property in this county,” Reed said.
The primary race for Chancery Clerk has incumbent Misty Taylor Heffner against Hugh Armistead of Olive Branch, who has 35 years working as an attorney and small business owner.
Heffner won election when long time Chancery Clerk “Sluggo” Davis retired. She had been Deputy Chancery Clerk since 1994.
"We pride ourselves on having the best managed office in the state, which is quite an accomplishment,” Heffner said.
“I want all of you to know that I care very much about this job,” Armistead replied. “What we’re going to do in the campaign is to talk about how we’re going to make this better and how we’re going to make it more efficient.”
Others who participated in Thursday’s event were District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell, who is facing challenger Kendall Prewitt in the August primary, and District 5 Supervisor Michael Lee, who has no opposition in either the primary or general election.
The wife of District 2 Supervisor Mark Gardner spoke for him, as Gardner was away at a meeting. Justice Court Judges Ken Adams and Billy Lantrip made presentations.
District 4 Constable Bobby Holloway spoke, as did the two of the three GOP candidates for District 5 Constable. They are incumbent Lee Hodge and challenger Timothy Curtis.
June 24 is the first day absentee ballots will be accepted for the August 6 primary vote in the Circuit Clerk’s office with Aug. 3 being the in-person deadline for absentee ballots to be accepted.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.