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The city of Sturgis will hold a special election from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department to select a new alderman to finish the unexpired term of Quinnia Yates.
Sturgis Mayor Walter Turner said Yates tendered her resignation from the board in late summer due to health-related concerns. He said Yates was a valuable asset to the board for about three years, spearheading a community assessment evaluation of Sturgis‚Äô strengths and weaknesses in conjunction with Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Development Authority.
‚ÄúShe was an active board member,‚ÄĚ Turner said. ‚ÄúVoters will make their choice, and we‚Äôll be glad to have whoever they want us to work with.‚ÄĚ
Turner said two candidates applied and qualified to run for the office: James Eric Jackson, running as an independent, and Mallory Ware, running as a Republican.
Jackson is currently retired, and he said he spent several years as a vocational counselor, performing vocational assessment for the U.S. Department of Veterans‚Äô Affairs. He has also served as a Sturgis alderman before, he said, but like Yates, he had to resign before his term ended due to health-related concerns.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs kind of (a chance to finish) her unexpired term and kind of finishing mine too, I guess,‚ÄĚ Jackson said. ‚ÄúShe and I did volunteer work together up at the Salvation Army in Starkville a couple of years ago.‚ÄĚ
Ware is retired as well, and he said while he has not held political office before, he believes his business and charity experience will help Sturgis grow. He said he and his wife attend Sturgis Baptist Church and have run a food pantry there called God‚Äôs Warehouse since 2007.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve run several large companies in the Louisiana oil fields,‚ÄĚ Ware said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve also owned a couple (of companies). With my experience with being able to motivate people and keep things running, I think that qualifies me for the position of alderman.‚ÄĚ
Both candidates said they want to grow Sturgis‚Äôs business community. Jackson said new businesses are one of several needs Sturgis has.
‚ÄúMany of the businesses, of course, have moved on to larger locations, so that was always a prime need here in Sturgis,‚ÄĚ Jackson said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôd (also) like to see some recycling efforts investigated.‚ÄĚ
Ware said he wants to not only help Sturgis develop, but also the whole of Mississippi.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm hoping to try to bring in new businesses (and) promote Sturgis and the state of Mississippi to be a thriving, growing community,‚ÄĚ Ware said.
Both candidates also said they are interested in trying to bring back the city‚Äôs motorcycle rally.
The event was cancelled in 2011 when the Sturgis Board of Aldermen rejected the Sturgis South Bike Rally Board‚Äôs contract due to concerns about the rally‚Äôs ability to finance its end of the contract.
The board consists of five aldermen, and Yates was one of three who voted down the contract in several incarnations.
Jackson said he has participated in the rally in the past.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre known among the biking community as little Sturgis in Mississippi,‚ÄĚ Jackson said. ‚ÄúI think that‚Äôs kind of (a point of) identification in the southeastern United States.‚ÄĚ
Ware said he sees the rally as a growth opportunity.
‚ÄúI think it was a good thing for the town of Sturgis,‚ÄĚ Jackson said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm looking forward to working with the mayor and the rest of the board to get the bike rally back on its feet.‚ÄĚ