Sumrall residents will soon see a new face at the city’s helm, as William Joel Lofton is set to begin his first term as mayor of the growing municipality.
According to certified results from the June 8 general municipal elections, Lofton defeated current Mayor Heath Sumrall 221 votes to 209. Lofton, along with the members of the Sumrall Board of Aldermen, will be sworn in to their new four-year terms on July 1.
“I’m very thankful for all the folks that came out and supported us,” Lofton said. “I think we had a good run, and Mayor Sumrall ran a good campaign, and we were all interested in what we can do to improve our town. It was good all around.”
One of Lofton’s first priorities will be placing the right people on certain projects, including filling some department head positions that have been vacant. As part of that, he plans to conduct a thorough search to find well-qualified individuals to head up those departments.
“They’re very important in daily operations, and the people deserve the best, so that’s a first priority, absolutely,” he said. “After that, there are things that folks have talked with us about throughout the campaign that we need to address.
“And some are being addressed, and I’m involved in regular operations, but I think the department heads will make a big difference there. We’ve got some water and sewer issues, and that’s one of heads that we have not had in place for quite a long time now.”
Lofton’s education includes career certificates and degrees – AA, BS, MEd and a PhD – with studies in the fields of emergency medicine, law enforcement, mathematics, forensics and education. He has served as a police officer, an emergency medical technician, administrator, and a statewide active shooter training coordinator. He is currently an instructor in Walthall County.
Lofton’s family has been active in the Lamar County School District, youth sports and Sumrall First Baptist Church.
“I just feel like my background lends some experience in a time where it could be well-used,” Lofton said. “There’s a lot of emphasis right now placed by the government on infrastructure, and I’ve got a lot of experience with grants and successfully obtaining funding.
“I think right now, with the federal government wanting to improve infrastructure across the country, it’s a great time for our community to reach out and bring some of those funds in. I was asked by individuals in our community to help, and that’s what I want to do.”
Lofton said at the end of his first term, he would like to see Sumrall with a long-range plan in place, with infrastructure projects at least underway and some completed. At the same time, he is looking forward to projecting the city’s growth into the future.
“We have a limited amount of available property within our town, and we know the growth is coming, so I believe we can project where we’ll be in the future,” he said. “What I’d like to see is that we’re hopefully moving toward that at the end of my four years.
“But more importantly, I want to see that there’s a good, workable plan in place so that regardless of who is here five years from now, there will be something they can work with and continue moving forward.”
General election results from the Sumrall Board of Aldermen are as follows:
- Alderwoman-at-Large: Brittany Fortenberry, unopposed with 374 votes.
- Ward 1: Lamar Reed defeated Cornelius Peterson, 59 votes to 20.
- Ward 2: Dennis Lee Granberry Jr., unopposed with 126 votes.
- Ward 3: Pam Birdsong Graves defeated William Darrell Bullock, 64 votes to 57.
- Ward 4: Darrell Hall defeated Larene McLendon, 43 votes to 34.
All candidates ran as Independents.