Changes in 2021  Tupelo mayor race

Markel Whittington

Tupelo Ward One Council Member Markel Whittington announced his candidacy for Mayor of the City of Tupelo in the Republican primary April 6, 2021.

“It is the Tupelo Spirit that makes this community so special. We work, worship and play in a safe and happy environment. I want to build on that spirit to create greater opportunities for every citizen in Tupelo. During my tenure on the City Council, there has been a positive relationship between the chief executive of Tupelo and the City Council. That relationship should not only be sustained but expanded upon. There should be open and frank discussion on all matters that affect us, and all voices should be heard. I sincerely hope the people of Tupelo will elect me their next Mayor, and I will commit all my attention and efforts to building upon the strong community we enjoy together,” Whittington said.

A few days earlier, the chief operations officer of northeast Mississippi's largest city announced he was dropping out of the mayor's race.

Don Lewis said that he had decided to devote all of his energy to his city job, helping to lead the city through economic uncertainty and the COVID-19 pandemic. Lewis is the top appointed official in Mayor Jason Shelton's administration.

Shelton, a Democrat, is not seeking reelection.

“I don't think it's the right time or the right job for me right now,” Lewis said, saying he was concerned about a difficult and competitive campaign. “And I don't know that it ever will be. I'm not a politician or a campaigner.''

Qualifying for the race doesn't begin until January with the general election set in June. The 65-year-old Lewis had announced his plans in August to run as a Republican.

He touted his insider knowledge of municipal government and his work as a key figure in the Shelton administration.

Todd Jordan, a Republican Lee County supervisor, is the only declared candidate in the race right now.

Councilman Mike Bryan has said he's considering a campaign.

Shelton, earlier in the year, announced he would not seek relection for the mayor seat. Shelton plans to resurrect his law practice that has been dormant the past eight years while he oversaw 450 full-time and 550 part-time and seasonal city employees.

He said the family’s old law office at the corner of Spring and Jefferson streets, unoccupied for years, needs repairs before he can move back in.

“I have enjoyed being mayor but I’m ready to get back to practicing law,” Shelton said, explaining that he will have to rebuild his general law practice “a little bit of everything from the ground up. And I will take care of my dad’s estate, liquidate some properties.”

His father, well known attorney Jimmy Doug Shelton, died in 2017 at the age of 80. “I probably wouldn’t have run for reelection in 2013 if I had known I had to close my law office.”

The qualifying period for Tupelo municipal elections begins in January 2021, and the election will take place in June 2021.

Municipal elections training and certification will be held in Tupelo on Dec. 16, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Registration must be received by Dec. 9. Location will be ICC Belden Center, 3200 Adams Farm Road, Belden, MS.

Any questions should be directed to the Secretary of State office, 431 West Main Street, Suite 403, Tupelo or call (662) 844-0194.

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