Local elected officials play a vital
role in leading communities around the state. The Mississippi Secretary of
State’s office oversees elections in the state of Mississippi. We recently sat
down with Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman to learn more about the role
local elected officials play in their communities and the election process.
They basically run the government, when you get down to it. But people come here,
the members of the House and the Senate and they make laws but when you get down
to it county government is the one that picks up the garbage, repairs the streets,
furnishes the jail, hires police and the Sheriff’s Department, all the things that
make government run come out of county government. And that’s why our boards of
Supervisors, our Tax Assessors, tax collector, circuit clerks, the sheriff,
those are all what people see on a day to day basis they have the most effect
on their day to day lives. So county government, if it doesn’t work
in a county, the county usually doesn’t function very well. The role of a local
elected official plays in the community is not to be taken lightly.
Basically they reflect the community. Now when you when you run for office you
give up a whole lot. A lot of your personal time, a lot of anonymity, you
know you can’t hardly go in somewhere where somebody doesn’t know you and say
I wish you hadn’t voted this way or why didn’t you fix my street or whatever. So
I mean, you have a lot it’s a full-time 24 hours a day job for a lot of lot of
people get elected. So it’s important that they reflect the community. That
they first have a great deal of love for what they’re doing. They better like what
they’re doing or they’ll be disappointed and I like the people in the community
you see that people get elected usually are people persons, and then that then
the last thing of course they’re what guides you for the future you know in
the future that decisions made on on ad valorem tax exemptions are on education
funding are on the new school or pushing a bond for higher education for
education in the community all of those things will come out of the leadership
in your County making the decision to run for office requires thoughtful
consideration just running for office is a mistake you know I don’t think you
should run for office so I want to change the way the county does economic
development I want the school system to be better and I’m on a tear to go do
that so to do that I’ve got to get elected you know I refer to it as hard
you know and everybody asked me so what do you do well I got hired as Secretary
of State it’s a job that I’m supposed to be doing I know what my job duties are
supposed to be I think if you just say well I’m gonna do something so I can get
elected you’re probably doing it for the wrong reason the first place to make the
decision is a kitchen table I’m just telling you and if you lose your vote in
the kitchen table you don’t need to go further because when you are in public
office like I was just telling you you lose an enemy people to look at your
children what are they doing you know did they get a special break in school
or you know we even have places where somebody got elected cheerleader because
somebody was supervisor I mean come on y’all so you have all of those things
that come in to place over the first place to go as a kitchen table and if
you lose there you need to stop if you win at the kitchen table then the next
place to go is all your friends and ask them what they think and particularly
close friends because they’ll tell you sometimes I wouldn’t do that you know
whatever and they’ll be honest with you I think once you do those two you could
branch out of the community and you have to ask for money
I mean it’s expensive to run for a House seat here in Mississippi maybe fifty
thousand dollars for a Board of Supervisors may take five or ten
thousand dollars so I mean you’ve got pamphlets to do or
maybe you’ve had in the newspaper those kinds of things so you you go through
those steps on a kitchen table good friends broaden out to the community and
raise money once someone has made the decision to run for office they should
fully understand the roles and responsibilities of that office well we
have a we have on our website and all the websites do there’s the legal
requirements you know how you have to be how long we have to live in Mississippi
to be a judge or more supervisor or whatever and then the requirements are
statutory and the Board of Supervisors have a great deal of leeway that Tax
Assessors are to assess the taxes of course for the whole County collectors
collect the taxes Circuit Court runs the elections and also the circuit judges
and the Chancery clerk ones you know the Chancery Division in Wills and estates
and child children issues and whatnot so they’re all pretty much outlined in
statute what your rights are that’s a good place to start to see what your
responsibilities are political campaigns scale and intensity vary with the office
you are seeking but regardless of the size requires time and planning that for
the county you’ve got five supervisors so there’s five beats and in those
supervisors will be elected from that area and then the election commissioners
are elected from that area they course the sheriff is elected countywide as all
the circle clubs change for Clark those kinds of things so you first have to
find out who’s going to vote in your election if you run for the supervisors
you’ve got a fifth of the county about and you what I would do and what I still
do is go house to house get up in the morning and go knock on doors
particularly on Saturdays and maybe Sunday afternoons late but you you need
to go out into the public and tell them what you want to do and then listen to
what they want you to do listening is a lot most times better than telling so I
would I would encourage you to go out go door-to-door in the areas that you
we’ll be elected from I just work real hard and I guess you yeah I always have
to anticipate somebody’s going to try to say you’re a bad person about something
you know in today’s political environment it seems like it’s more if I
can make somebody else more negative I don’t have to say what my positives are
I’ve never been a proponent of that I think people want a future to look
towards the future and they want a positive attitude but a lot of our
politics so now has gotten where I’m gonna run somebody down about you know
what he did or she did versus what I want to do and I’m hopeful that that
will change you know more positive impacts there are specific steps that
must be followed when running for public office yeah they’ll qualify of course
with the party to start with and typically at least a Republican and a
Democrat Party then there may be a libertarian or a Green Party there may
be others those are party primaries so when you talk about I’m gonna run for
office you have to remember say if half of your people are Republican and half
Democrat which party you going to select and you you you are oftentimes and most
every time better off selecting the party that you’ve been voting in if you
voted in the Democrat primary you probably are a Democrat if you voted a
Republican you’re probably a Republican if you voted in the Democrat or your
times and then you’re gonna run as a Republican somebody’s gonna say he’s
really not a Republican or vice-versa so I think you have to pick your party
there and there’s some independents like the mayor Vicksburg’s an independent
there are some independence around but you didn’t you run in your party primary
and you have to win the party primary in order to get on the general election
ballot you know party primaries are run by the parties not the state so I won’t
have anything do with that and and the government should not be in party
primaries the worst thing you could have is a Republican Secretary of State
running that demo primary that’s how that’s not a good
idea to me so I’ve been opposed to us inserting state government into party
primaries once you get past the party primaries and you got elected then
you’re in a general runoff and yet that would be the Republican versus a
Democrat versus a libertarian or whomever a green party whomever the
other parties are then you have a general election so the party primaries
next year I think are in August in the general will be the first Tuesday in
November of next year so that’s kind of the process that you would go through
whether you are considering running for office or just learning more about your
local government you can see that electing qualified leaders for your
community is important I have just a great deal of respect for the sheriffs
and the boards of Supervisors of Mayors and aldermen they really run that
government right you know these people will come here for three months and they
split up six billion dollars I mean that’s that’s nice and they and they
give some statutory guidance to these people but in the end whether or not
state of Mississippi is going to prosper is probably at the local level I mean
that’s where you’ll see innovation that’s where you’ll see people commit to
their school system without an educated workforce we’re not going anywhere
those happen in over a hundred school districts around Mississippi just I
think everything functions off your county government if it’s dysfunctional
your counties not gonna work I think the County elected officials are absolutely
critical to the Future statement and you need to have good ones there are many
resources available to those who are interested in running for local office
elections and voting from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office
if you want to find out information about casting ballots or your local
precinct or anything you can go to y’all vote it’s on SOS not ems gov we
Institute that about six years ago reams of information about the offices our
timing when you’ve got to file for with the
eligibility offer to being in a particular office of outlined all of
that on y’all vote so if you’ll go to y’all vote it will answer just about
everything you need to do and would remind everybody that they first got to
be registered to found it and and then everybody needs to cast a ballot you can
learn more about local government through the Mississippi State University
Extension Service Center for government and community development