Big seats up for grabs in DeSoto County election including mayor of Hernando

DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. -- Polls close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in DeSoto County where voters will pick candidates for the primaries in the county's five municipalities.

There are a number of big seats up for grabs, including aldermen seats in the county's five cities.

In towns like Hernando, Southaven and Horn Lake, the Republican incumbents are being challenged.

“Very literally, every vote counts," said current Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson. "This could be down to ten votes. Who knows?”

Johnson knows this to be true after being the mayor of Hernando for 12 years.

The city’s recently been recognized by different outlets as the healthiest town in Mississippi, one of the 100 best cities to live and a top spot to raise a family.

“I’m excited every day when I go to work because I’m the mayor of the best town in Mississippi," said Johnson.

But on Tuesday, his opponent Tom Ferguson campaigned against him just feet away.

“I was born and raised here, and I love this town," said Ferguson. "I'd like to take care of what we got and move forward with new ideas and new things."

The pilot says he wants to put more focus transparency and public safety.

“Public health and safety is our main thing and getting another ambulance is very important to me when we only have one for a population over 16,000.”

But Johnson says Hernando’s come a long way since he’s been mayor, noting how the city didn’t have a parks department before him among other entities.

“I know this may sound like a small thing, but now people know when their garbage is going to get picked up," said Johnson. "There’s actually a schedule.”

Both candidates say infrastructure and roads are on their list of priorities.

The city currently has $23 million worth of transportation programs in the works.

“We’re in the middle of that, which is interesting to be in the middle of the election and the middle of this," said Johnson.

Johnson says his experience is what makes him the right candidate, while Ferguson says he’s ready to bring fresh eyes to the growing city.

In Southaven, Mayor Darren Musselwhite is being challenged by fellow republicans Tommy Henley and James Weifenbach.

In all the races, the winner has to get more than 50 percent of the vote. If that doesn't happen, there will be a run-off race later this month on May 16th.

The winners from Tuesday's primary will advance to the general election on June 6th.