EDITOR'S NOTE: Confusion continues to reitgn in Okolona over who or who should not be the Chief of Police. Monday, a judge effectively ordered the current chief out of office - and we’re told the governor will set a special election. WTVA’s Mike Russell spent much of Tuesday in Okolona, and filed this report.
Okolona, a quiet little town of 2600 about 25 miles south of Tupelo. In May, voters went to the polls in a democratic runoff for town marshal (police chief). Since then, a series of -- for lack of a better phrase -- voting "irregularities" caused confusion about who’d actually been elected. Ultimately, William Randle became chief.
In May, a single vote divided the two candidates in the democratic primary. There was dispute over whether or not the votes were cast by registered voters - and William Randle was declared the winner. Monday, Special Judge Barry Ford issued a ruling saying Randle actually lost to former chief Tommy Ivy, Sr. -- essentially removing Randle from office. Governor Phil Bryant will set a special election, and we're told Randle's name will not be on that ballot. At this point, Tommy Ivy, Sr. will be running against his son Tommy Ivy, Jr., running as an independent.
Meanwhile, third-term Okolona Mayor Sherman Carouthers says the city is busy, and simply doesn't have the time or inclination to deal with needless controversy.
"This situation is not going to be anything that's going to impede our progress; I can assure you of that," says Carouthers. "We are going to move Okolona forward."
Chief Randle did not want to speak on camera, but did say he will appeal Judge Ford’s decision. In the meantime, he will remain in office. Randle's attorney says there is no legal rationale for removing Randle from office. He says he is 'perplexed' by Judge Ford's ruling.
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