McGee vows to 'put Hattiesburg first'

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Lifelong Hattiesburg resident Missy McGee outdistanced social worker Kathryn Rehner by a 2-1 margin during a runoff Tuesday to capture the vacant state House District 102 seat in the Legislature.

McGee collected 2,107 votes to 1,000 for Rehner in the runoff, which was required because neither candidate collected a majority of votes in the Sept. 12 special election. In that election, four candidates were hoping to fill the unexpired term of Toby Barker, who became Hattiesburg mayor July 1 after running as an independent. He ran for the state House as a Republican.

McGee thanked her supporters for their confidence in her after the election Tuesday.

“I am so humbled by the overwhelming support that I have received throughout this campaign,” she said. “I am truly honored to represent the great people of District 102. For me this campaign has always been about putting Hattiesburg first. That's what I want to do every day at the State Capitol: effectively advocate for the things that make us strong, and fight hard to help us overcome our challenges.”

With a total vote count of 12,765 in House District 102, only 24.3 percent of the district’s registered voters turned out Tuesday to cast their ballots.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant issued a statement congratulating McGee and saying she will be a "fierce advocate for her constituents."

State Rep. Brad Touchstone, a Hattiesburg Republican representing District 101, sought support for McGee because the House has four vacancies in the 122-member body and the Republican three-fifths’ supermajority was last measured at 60.2 percent on July 25.

Rehner said after the election that she was happy that a woman would be filling the District 102 seat and she plans to discuss ideas with McGee before she takes office in January 2018 in Jackson.

In third place in the Sept. 12 voting was Casey A. Mercier, a state retiree, who collected 709 votes, or 21.3 percent, while attorney Cory Ferraez had 316 votes, or 9.5 percent.

Members of the Mississippi House of Representatives serve four-year terms and are not subject to term limits. Mississippi legislators assume office the first day of the regular session of the year after their election. The Constitution requires the Legislature to convene yearly on the Tuesday after the first Monday in January.

In order to run for the Mississippi House of Representatives, a candidate must be at least 21 years old, a qualified elector and resident of the State of Mississippi for four years and a resident of the county or district a candidate plans to represent for two years.

Other special elections were held in District 108 in Pearl River County to succeed Republican Mark Formby of Picayune, District 38 in Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties to replace Democrat Tyrone Ellis of Starkville, who retired; and District 54 in Issaquena, Warren and Yazoo counties to replace Republican Rep. Alex Monsour, who left to become a Vicksburg alderman.