Know the offices voters are electing

From press & staff reports

Historically, the role of counties has been to serve as an administrative arm of the state – maintaining records, providing courts and law enforcement, building roads, assessing property and collecting taxes, and conducting elections. Counties still perform these functions, as well as a growing list of other functions, under the supervision of various elected and appointed officials.

Have you ever considered what it takes for county elected officials to get to their positions? Have you yourself ever considered making a run for a local office in your county?

Each of the sections below contains a brief description of the basic powers and duties of the top elected and appointed county officials.

County District Offices
Constable
Qualifications: A Constable must be a qualified elector in the county and district in which elector in the county and district in which election is sought. The qualifying fee is $10.
Duties: Constables shall keep and preserve the peace within their county, by aiding and assisting the executing the criminal laws of the state for the Justice Courts of his district. Constables shall obey all lawful orders and execute all judgments for Justice Courts within this district.
Justice Court Judge
Qualifications: A Justice Court Judge must be a qualified elector, a resident of the county and district for two (2) years proceeding the day of election, and complete course of training required by law within six (6) months of the beginning of the term in office. The qualifying fee is $10.
Duties: Justice Court Judges shall have civil and criminal jurisdiction of all actions where the principal of the debt, amount of the demand, or the value of the property sought to be recovered shall not exceed $2,500.
Supervisor
Qualifications: County Supervisors must be qualified electors of the county and reside in the district in which election is sought. The qualifying fee is $15.
Duties: Supervisors shall have the power to adopt, modify, alter, or repeal orders, resolutions or ordinaries in their respective county and district not inconsistent with law. In general, supervisors have jurisdiction over roads, ferried, bridges, tax levis, courthouses and jails, county-owned real property, appropriations of funds, contractual powers of municipality as well as other powers expressly authorized by law.
Countywide Offices
Chancery Clerks and Circuit Clerk
Qualifications: These officers must be qualified electors of the county in which election is sought. The qualifying fee is $15.
Duties: The Chancery Clerk is elected to a four-year term and may run for re-election. The Chancery Clerk is the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and of the Chancery Court. The Clerk is responsible for maintaining the records of both the Board and the Court.
The Circuit Clerk is elected to a four-year term and may run for re-election. The Clerk is the chief officer of the Circuit Court and chief elections officer of the count. The Clerk maintains the voter rolls and assists the Election Commissioners in purging the voter rolls, and assists election officials to conducting primary and general elections.
Tax Assessor and/or Tax Collector
Qualifications: These officers must be qualified electors of the county in which election is sought. The qualifying fee is $15.
Duties: The Tax Assessor and/or Tax Collector may serve in both capacities in all counties. This official is elected to a four-year term and may run for re-election. The Assessor’s role is to maintain the personal, real and ad valorem tax rolls of the county. The Collector is responsible for keeping the records of tax payments and depositing the money in the county treasury.
Coroner
Qualifications: The Coroner must be a qualified elector, at least 21 years of age, of the county in which election is sought. The qualifying fee is $10.
Duties: The Coroner is elected to a four-year term and may run for re-election. The Coroner is the chief county medical examiner and/or county medical examiner investigator. This official is responsible for issuing declarations of death and performing or reporting results of autopsies in case requiring such action.
Sheriff
Qualification: The Sheriff must not be a defaulter to the State or any county or municipality or to the United States and a qualified elector. The qualifying fee is $15.
Duties: The Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of the count and is elected to a four-year term. He may run for re-election. The Sheriff is the chief officer of the chancery and circuit courts and maintains the county law library. The sheriff is in charge of the county courthouse, jail, and protection of prisoners.

One of the governor’s duties is signing bills into law.

One of the governor’s duties is signing bills into law.

State offices:
• State senator and representative: The legislative branch is responsible for writing laws for the state of Mississippi. The state Legislature is divided into two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The state is divided into 52 Senate districts and 122 Representative districts.

Each year in January the Mississippi Legislature begins its session where members bring proposed laws, called “bills,” to the floor of either the House of Representatives or the Senate for debate and eventually a vote. Often during this process changes or “amendments” are made to the bill, which are incorporated before a final vote takes place.

If a bill is first presented on the floor of the House of Representatives, once that bill has been passed by the members of the House, it must then go to the Senate for debate and vote. The same principle operates if a bill is first introduced in the Senate. The House of Representatives is presented the final version of the bill for a vote. The second chamber has the opportunity to make changes to the bill. Those changes are then voted on by the original chamber.

Once a bill passes both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature, it is sent to the governor for signature or veto.
• Governor: As chief executive officer of the state, the governor is charged with presenting a balanced budget to the Mississippi Legislature for its consideration. The governor either signs into law or vetoes all bills passed by the state legislature. Additionally, the governor serves as the commander-in-chief of Mississippi’s militia. The governor appoints officials to various government positions as the law requires
• Lieutenant governor: The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and votes in the event of a tie. He or she also serves as a member of the Senate Rules and Joint Legislative Budget committees, appoints standing committees of the Senate, and refers all bills to committees for consideration. If the office of the governor becomes vacant, by the governor’s death, absence from the state, or by long illness, the lieutenant governor will have the powers to discharge the duties of the office.
• Secretary of state: The secretary of state is responsible for making sure that certain businesses in the state operate under the law. He or she also manages state-owned lands such as 16th Section School Trust Lands and Tidelands. This office is also responsible for ensuring fair, accurate elections throughout the state of Mississippi, as well as for publishing documents dealing with the acts of the state legislature among other official documents, including the “Mississippi Official and Statistical Register,” commonly called the Blue Book.
• Attorney general: The attorney general is the chief legal officer of the state. He or she acts as the official lawyer for Mississippi, its public officials, and government agencies. The attorney general is the only official in the state who can bring or defend a lawsuit on behalf of the state. The attorney general’s office employs a staff of attorneys and investigators who help law enforcement investigate and prosecute criminal activity that happens in the state.
• State auditor: The state auditor maintains the state’s accounting system; audits all state agencies, county governments, county school districts, community colleges and universities; and conducts investigation into abuse of public funds and violation of law.
• State treasurer: The duties of the state treasurer parallel those of chief financial officer in the business world. The treasurer maintains various financial records for the state, including receipts, deposits and disbursement of treasury funds. He or she provides oversight of the process of issuing bonds.
• Commissioner of agriculture and commerce: The agriculture and commerce commissioner promotes and regulates the business of aquaculture and agriculture in the state, including food and product labeling inspections.
• Commissioner of insurance: The insurance commissioner executes all laws relative to all insurance companies, corporations, and their agents and adjustors operating in the state. The state’s standard fire code is administered by the commissioner, as well as the licensing of manufacturers and dealers of mobile homes and regulating their practices.
• Public service commissioner: The three public service commissioners supervise and regulate for-hire transportation, communication, electric, gas, water and sewer utilities.
• Transportation commissioner: The three transportation commissioners control and supervise all matters relating to airport development, highway construction and maintenance, weight enforcement, public transit and rail planning.

Sources: Secretary of State’s Office and mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us