Forrest Co. elects new sheriff, supervisor; Lamar Co. retains sheriff, judges

By HASKEL BURNS,

Voters in Forrest County chose a new sheriff and supervisor during Tuesday's general election, while the three opposed local candidates in Lamar County - including sheriff and two justice court judges - will remain in their positions.

Forrest County saw a voter turnout of 20,046, with 17,434 voters casting a ballot in Lamar County.

Forrest County

In the race for sheriff, Republican candidate Charlie Sims came out on top with 12,826 votes, well ahead of Independent candidates Kenny Johnson (5,657 votes) and T.G. "J" Oswalt Sr. (569 votes). Sims, who defeated challenger David Bassett in the August primary election, will be sworn in to the position in January to take over for retiring Sheriff Billy McGee.

"It feels fantastic," Sims said of his victory. "It's something I started four years ago, and it's hard to put into words.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to serve Forrest County. I know the citizens want a good department that they can be proud of, and that's professional and willing to serve their needs, and I'm ready to give it to them."

Sims, 60, retired as chief of police from the Hattiesburg Police Department in 2001 and has been Assistant Director of Public Safety for Forrest General Hospital since 2005.

He also served as curriculum coordinator for the Mississippi Police Corp Program and director of Staff Development for the National Police Corp Program.

He has a degree in criminal justice from the University of Southern Mississippi.

"I want to make sure that we're an agency with transparency and communication with the public, with the media, with other agencies," Sims said. "I want to make sure people know they can come to us with any kind of issues or anything, and we're going to work on those."

Democrat Sharon A. Thompson defeated Republican challenger Allen Rainey 2,141 votes to 1,359 in the race for Forrest County District 2 Supervisor. Thompson, who is the first woman to ever be elected to that board, will take over for longtime supervisor Charles Marshall, who she defeated in the August primary.

District 4 Supervisor Rod Woullard, a Democrat, retained his seat by defeating Republican challenger Brian Cawthon, 1,997 votes to 857. Likewise, Republican District 5 Supervisor Chris Bowen defeated his challenger, Independent candidate Ed Assaf, 2,442 votes to 1,487.

Republican Coroner Butch Benedict, who has served in the position for approximately 19 years, retained his seat with 10,292 votes. He defeated Democrat Alfreda R. Gray (5,875 votes) and Independent candidate Elizabeth Broome-Gillentine (3,405 votes).

Zach Vaughn will continue to serve as Justice Court Judge Post 2 after defeating challenger Anthony T. McCullum. Jennifer Brown-Travis defeated Independent challengers Jerry Alford, Luther E. Reid and Prince Woullard Jr. to retain the Constable Post 3 position, while Tommy Joe Cook defeated Phillip Hendricks in the Constable Post 4 race.

Lamar County

Longtime Republican Sheriff Danny Rigel will come back for another term after defeating Democratic challenger Michael Rogowski,13,729 votes to 3,419.

Rigel is a certified arson investigator, FBI certified composite artist and a certified crime scene analyst. He is a graduate of the FBI Crisis/Hostage Negotiator School and the Advanced Law Enforcement Supervisors School.

"I want to continue in helping make Lamar County the safest and best county in the state in which to live, work and raise a family," Rigel said in an earlier story. "I believe with my 37 years of law enforcement experience, with the last 16 serving as your sheriff, that I am the best qualified and I look forward to continuing to serve Lamar County in the future."

In the race for Justice Court Judge District 1, incumbent Bill Anderson defeated challenger Dena Hurst Semmons, 3,848 votes to 1,395. Denton Plumlee will return as Justice Court Judge in District 2, defeating Shronda Carter 4,093 votes to 1,573.

In the race for Mississippi House of Representatives District 102, which encompasses parts of Forrest and Lamar Counties, incumbent Republican Missy Warren McGee defeated Democratic challenger Brandon Terrion Rue, 3,702 votes to 2,079.

All other candidates in Lamar County ran unopposed.