Rep. Hester Jackson-McCray walked the halls of the state Capitol with a jubilant smile on her face, flanked by her team. Last November, the Horn Lake Democrat convinced 1,553 voters near Horn Lake and Southaven to vote for her. On Wednesday, Jan. 29, she received only five new votes. But that was all it took to keep her in the Mississippi House of Representatives—as long as the full body agrees.
The House Special Election Committee tasked with investigating the race unanimously voted to keep Jackson-McCray in the Legislature after a long and emotionally charged public hearing. White Republican incumbent Ashley Henley had challenged Jackson-McCray's victory over her in the Republican-controlled House rather than through the courts where most election challenges land.
As of press time, the House had not voted on the final measure, but Rep. Rob Roberson, R-Starkville, told the Jackson Free Press he is confident the House will accept the committee's recommendation.
Jackson-McCray defeated Henley in last November's election by 14 votes.
Henley quickly contested the results, alleging improper procedure on the part of DeSoto County election officials as well as voter fraud.
The key testimony in the special committee's proceedings came from two DeSoto County officials, Circuit Clerk Dale K. Thompson and Election Commissioner Danny Klein. Both Republicans unequivocally stated that the election of Jackson-McCray was fair and unblemished.
After four hours of testimony and deliberation, the committee of four Republicans and one Democrat voted 5-0 to recommend the House uphold the results of the election. The decision is not expected to change the makeup of the Legislature: The House sat Jackson-McCray with all the other representatives at the beginning of the term.
Teacher Pay Charges Ahead
As promised, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann began the process of raising teacher pay on Thursday, Jan. 30. Senate Bill 2001 proposes a $1,000 raise for all public-school teachers