No special election needed to fill seat vacated by Toni Johnson, one commissioner says

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Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 6:22 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A special election will not be set to fill the election commission seat recently vacated by Toni Johnson.

Instead, it will be filled during the regular election this November when the District 2 seat was again up for grabs.

“For District 2 and District 4, this is the regular year to run,” said District 5 Commissioner Shirley Varnado. “[Candidates] will have to qualify by February 1.”

Varnado says that because of a recent change in state law staggering election commission terms, candidates have to run a year early to fill the District 2 and District 4 seats.

“They [the legislature] changed the rules in 2020 to staggered terms in 2023 and then in 2024,” she said. “They don’t want everyone to run at the same time, because there could be the possibility that everyone would be new.”

“That’s why we will have two run in 2023 and three in 2024,” Varnado said.

The change in state statute means that going forward, candidates in the even-numbered commissioner districts will now run for four-year terms every statewide election year, while those in odd-numbered districts will run during presidential election years.

The change also means that no special election will have to be set to fill the District 2 Election Commission spot, which was formerly held by Toni Johnson.

Johnson was removed from the position on January 9 after she pleaded guilty to three felony counts in Hinds County Circuit Court. State statute prohibits those convicted of felonies from serving in office.

Statute also mandates that during election years, individuals appointed to fill unfilled terms shall remain in office until after that election. Earlier this week, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors appointed attorney RaToya Gilmer McGee to take over the seat.

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