Author: Billy Davis, The Panolian
The run-off candidates for House District 11 are knocking on doors and organizing last-minute support before the special election next Tuesday.
Only 12 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot March 26, and it’s typical that fewer voters return for a runoff when the slate of candidates dwindles to two.
Anderson Boothe, of Batesville, and Lataisha Jackson, of Como, are vying to finish the term of late state Rep. Joe Gardner. Both candidates are 29 years old and one of the them will be the youngest state rep in the House after Tuesday.
Jackson finished first in the March 26 special election, winning 854 Panola votes. Boothe garnered 746 votes to place second but led Jackson at seven of the precincts in District 11.
During the final weekend before Election Day, Jackson said supporters are going door to door.
A pre-election rally for Jackson was held Tuesday at the Patton Lane Community Center and another pre-election rally is planned Monday in Como.
Boothe said a community rally is planned Saturday at Patton Lane Park in Batesville. A gospel music show is planned for Sunday afternoon in Sardis, he said.
Jackson has said she traveled and lived in other states in the past, which she considers an asset for her candidacy. Candidates for state representative must live in Mississippi four years, and in the district for two years, to be eligible to seek public office according to state election law.
Jackson told The Panolian this week that she moved from Chicago to Como in 2008 and consideredPanola County her permanent residence while living elsewhere.
Jackson operates “EDUCATE,” a non-profit, after-school program for children in Como. The Panolian first reported on the EDUCATE program in 2009, when Jackson oversaw a back-to-school rally for children.
Although Jackson says she had moved back to Panola County, an official with the Chicago Board of Elections confirmed that she voted in Chicago in 2010, in a primary election and later in a General Election.
She confirmed to a Panolian editor that she voted in Chicago while a student there, and election records show Jackson cast a ballot in Chicago in November 2008, when she would have been attending law school.
Panola County election records show Jackson was not voting in Panola County and Chicago at the same time. She cast her first ballot here in 2003 and her second ballot in 2012, in a presidential election.
Panola County election records for Boothe, obtained by The Panolian, show he cast his first-ever ballot in Panola County in the March 26 election with his name on the ballot.
Asked about residency issues, Boothe said he has lived in Panola County all his life, except for briefly living in Oxford while attending Ole Miss. He presently lives on Mackey Avenue in Batesville.
Boothe said he showed proof of residency and submitted an affidavit to the Mississippi Secretary of State when he qualified to seek the District 11 seat.
Boothe’s campaign is enjoying the endorsement of Belinda Morris, whose late husband Leonard served as the District 11 representative.
“If you desire a representative who will listen to the needs of the people and stand strong for our district, Anderson Boothe is the ideal candidate,” Morris said in a statement e-mailed to The Panolian.
“Anderson is a leader with the vision, values, and voice District Eleven needs,” she said.
Ella Gardner, widow of Joe Gardner, has also endorsed Boothe’s candidacy for her late husband’s seat.
Boothe told The Panolian on Thursday he had picked up the endorsement of the South Panola Association of Educators. Boothe is a graduate of South Panola High.
As the runoff nears, Jackson has picked up an “acknowledgement” of her candidacy from U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the state’s highest ranking Democrat.
“Democrats need a young leader with your energy, passion, knowledge and good heart to lead them in these trying times,” Thompson said in a letter to Jackson that was published in The Panolian in an ad paid for by the Jackson campaign.