By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Mark Thorman, who heads the NJROTC program at Picayune high school, has filed to challenge incumbent Mayor Ed Pinero, Jr., who has filed for a re-election bid as Picayune’s mayor in the June 4 Picayune city elections.
The filing deadline is Friday, March 8, at 5 p.m. for anyone wanting to file for either the race for mayor or one of the five city council spots. Filing is done at City Hall.
First primary is May 7; runoffs, if any, are May 21; and the General Election is June 4.
Both Thorman and Pinero are Republicans. In 2009, Thorman ran unsuccessfully against Pinero during the last city elections. It was Pinero’s first run for mayor.
During the last city elections in 2009, voters swept out the entire council, except District One’s Larry Watkins, following a bumpy road of financial problems that cropped up during the last council’s tenure.
The current council has held down taxes, passing only a six-mill increase to support a bond issue to pave city streets, something that seldom has any opposition, since it’s popular with voters.
Since the last election, the council also has changed city managers, naming former police chief Jim Luke to the city manager’s post, replacing former city manager Harvey Miller. The city manager is not an elected post, but is appointed by the City Council.
Picayune operates under a council-city manager type of government. The mayor is elected at-large and each of the five councilmen run in their respective districts, one through five. The setup is supposed to take politics out of the process by operating like a private sector corporation with a chief executive officer, the city manager, and the board of corporate directors, the council.
The mayor chairs the council meetings, acts as a ceremonial executive at city functions, but also can vote during council decisions. The city manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of city business, also hiring and firing, and the council is supposed to set broad governing policy.
It doesn’t always work out as smoothly as expected.
Although there are eight days remaining to file, here’s how the races are shaping up:
In District One: Larry Watkins, a Republican, has filed and so far has no opposition.
In District Two: No one has filed so far, but incumbent Lynn Bogan-Bumpers is expected to file shortly to seek re-election.
In District Three: Janice Stevens, who works at Pearl River Community College, has filed. So far, incumbent Todd Lane has not filed for re-election.
In District Four: No one has filed. Incumbent Larry Breland in this district last time pulled off a significant accomplishment, unseating powerful long-term councilman Leavern Guy, who served as District Four’s councilman for 24 years. There have been rumors that Guy will run again, but they have not been confirmed by Guy. Asked at the Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrations here if he would run again, Guy would not comment on his intention. His brother, John Guy, also has been mentioned as a possible challenger to Breland.
In District Five: Republican candidate Wayne Gouguet has filed for re-election, and Brian Goetzmann, a security officer at the high school, has filed to challenge Gouguet. Gouguet won last time, garnering 76 percent of the votes cast.
In Poplarville city races, 24-year veteran Mayor Bill Spiers is being challenged by alderman Bill Winborn, both Democrats, and Everett Lawrence, who is a Republican. If Spiers wins, he’ll enter an unprecedented seventh term, probably some kind of record there.
In the race for the board of aldermen, three incumbents — Dr. John A. Grant, Jr., Byron Wells and Johnny Sherman — have filed by Thursday for re-election. Incumbent Shirley Wiltshire as of Thursday had not filed for re-election.
Others filing for an aldermanic post are: Mark Bridgers, a Poplarville businessman; a former alderman Don Lee; and Randy Brown, a Biloxi policeman who lives in Poplarville.
All aldermen run at-large in Poplarville. There are no districts. The top five win in the General Election.