When it comes to electing officials to fill the posts of city and county offices, an overwhelming number of voters in West Point and Clay County almost always cast their vote for democratic candidates.
For years, the democratic party has won the support of Clay County not only in city and county races but state races as well. Because of the knowledge that the majority of Clay County is democrat, republicans haven’t run for office in Clay County in decades. Until now.
Clay County residents Becky Coe, Paxton Austin and Chad McComic are all taking a stand on their party beliefs and are seeking offices in the county as republicans this coming fall.
Coe is running for tax assessor/collector, an office she held in the county from January of 2004 until December of 2007. She said many people told her they admire her for running republican but said she was running on the wrong ticket for this county. Coe told those people it wasn’t about her. Rather, it was about serving God, and being a republican is how she said she can make her Christian stand.
“I felt in my heart a tug to stand up for what I believe in, which is Christianity,” Coe said. “It was a decision that I made on my knees and no other way. Some of the democrats believe in abortion. That's not something I believe in. I believe in asking God for guidance and leadership and then following in His steps; striving to make sure that the people of West Point and Clay County have someone who they can look up to.”
Coe, who is a certified Mississippi Assessment Evaluator, said she balanced the books in Clay County to the penny every month and valued her responsibility of handling money coming into and out of the county. She said the county needs someone, democratic or republican, who can wait on people efficiently, answer to the Mississippi Audit Department and manage the funds well in the county, and Coe feels that she’s proven she can do that from her previous time in office.
Austin, who is making a first time run for supervisor, District 3, is in business for himself, running a saw mill, cutting dunnage for Ellis Steel and putting up metal buildings. He said his business experience, work ethic, money management skills and knowledge of county roads make him the right candidate for the office of supervisor, District 3.
“I work hard, and I think that's what an elected official ought to do,” he said.
Austin said he brought up as a republican, falling in behind his father, who taught him the values he takes with him throughout his life. Like Coe, Austin said others tried to convince him to run democratic, but Austin said he wanted to do things right.
“I was told by a couple of people that I would need to be running democratic to get a chance to get elected, but my response to that was I wasn't going to start out by changing who I am and who I've always been,” Austin said. “I wanted to just be honest about it from the start, and I felt like that's the way it should be.”
A 2007 graduate of Oak Hill Academy, McComic is seeking for the first time the office of supervisor, District 4. McComic, too, is a businessman, running a construction and trucking company, managing the family farm and managing his restaurant, Chad’s Café.
Because of the fundamentals, McComic said he has always been a part of the republican party, a party that he says gives business owners a little more freedom and flexibility at running their business.
“I think each business should be able to manage their money like they want,” McComic said. “The less government, the better, in my opinion. No one likes to be told how to spend their money.”
As supervisor, McComic would strive to bring in new jobs, build the tax base and work to grow the economy of Clay County, he said.
“That’s my main thing. If you can get those tax dollars coming in and you can get the roads built back up and get the economy going, you can get other industries coming here,” McComic said.
McComic said he’s confident in winning the support of Clay County, noting his 50/50 chance during the November general election.
Despite the history of voting in Clay County, Austin said he is also confident in winning the race just as Coe said she is.
“The ultimate end is the decision of the people,” Coe said. “Before you vote for any of these offices, you should pray about it.”