Ten polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for voters to cast ballots in the party primaries Tuesday in Biloxi, with an overwhelming majority of Republican ballots expected to be cast because Republicans have a citywide mayor's race and four contested council races, while Democratic balloting will be conducted only in Wards 1 and 2.
Municipal Clerk Stacy Thacker said she was unsure of how many of the city's 23,868 registered voters would turn out Tuesday, but 118 absentee ballots had already been cast.
"We've tried to make sure everyone knows where to vote," Thacker said, "and if someone shows up at the wrong polling place, for whatever reason, the poll workers will help get you to the right place. We're asking everyone to be patient since this is the first time we're voting under ward lines re-drawn in January by the City Council."
Tuesday's party primaries, where voters have to choose whether to vote Democratic or Republican when they enter the polling place, are expected to draw more voters than the general election in June.
For instance, in the 2009 municipal primaries, when then-state Rep. Michael Janus unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Mayor A.J. Holloway, a total of 6,034 ballots were cast, with more than 5,100 of those being Republican. Only 3,585 voted in the general election in 2009.
On Tuesday, the only contested Democratic races are George Lawrence and Angel Truong in Ward 1, and Felix O. Gines challenging incumbent William "Bill" Stallworth. The Ward 1 winner would face no Republican opposition, while the Ward 2 winner would face a Republican opponent and two Independent challengers.
Last month, the Democratic Executive Committee certified three Democratic candidates who faced no Democratic challengers: Mayoral candidate Jess Kennedy, Ward 3 incumbent Lucy Denton and Ward 7 candidate Tyler Ainsworth will not appear on the ballot until the June 4 general election.
On the Republican ticket, of course, the mayoral races between incumbent A.J. Holloway and challenger David Bull is citywide, and 14 candidates are vying for four seats on the City Council. Ward 3 has three candidates: Dianne G. Harenski, Dixie Newman and Joy Barhanovich Tucei; Ward 4, a seat being vacated by Clark Griffith, has five candidates: Robert A. "Bob" Carroll, Robert Collier, Robert L. Deming III, Dan Hunter and David Leckich; Ward 6 has four candidates: Paul H. Boudreaux Jr., incumbent Edward "Ed" Gemmill, Kenny Glavan and Tim Hendricks; and Ward 7 has two candidates: incumbent David Fayard and Victor Ainsworth.
Republican voters in Wards 3, 4 and 6 could find themselves returning to their respective polling places for runoffs if no candidate in those races captures more than half of the votes cast.
And in Ward 5, would-be Republican nominee Dr. Paul Tisdale faces no Republican or Democratic opposition.
News and notes
The names: To see the complete slate of candidates – Democrats, Republicans and independents – click here.
The places: To see a list of the polling places and ward map, click here.