Brent Bailey (left) and DeKeither Stamps (right)
The three-man Public Service Commission will have all new faces when the new term starts in January 2024.
It’s been one week since the 2023 General Election and the race for Central District Public Service Commissioner came down to boxes in four counties – Sharkey, Yazoo, Madison and Rankin – which were slow to report unofficial results and close to 1,000 uncounted absentee ballots.
However, State Rep. De’Keither Stamps (D) has defeated incumbent Commissioner Brent Bailey (R).
As of Tuesday afternoon, with 97% of the precincts reporting, Stamps holds a 2,134 vote lead over Bailey. Stamps sits at 50.4% to Bailey’s 49.6%.
Stamps told Magnolia Tribune on Tuesday that the lag in finalizing the results hurts the transition process, saying the slow reporting coupled with the holiday season could “lessen our effectiveness” in being ready to take office in January.
“We’re spending more time talking with lawyers about potential election contests and paying people to sit in courthouses to watch people shuffle paper than transitioning into office,” Stamps said. “Every day we are not transitioning and preparing makes us less effective come January which puts us farther behind the other two commissioners who have been transitioning since the primary. It puts the Central District at a disadvantage.”
Four years ago, Stamps officially ended his bid and conceded the 2019 Central District Public Service Commissioner race to Bailey, a political newcomer, on November 21st – sixteen days after the General Election – in a message on Facebook. Stamps posted a video titled “The People have spoken” where he confirmed that he would not be contesting the election. At the time Stamps conceded, Bailey was up by roughly 2,200 votes.
“The people have spoken and now we are down to the wire, and we have looked under every rock and every ballot box across the whole 22 counties. We’ve taken a good survey of things, and I just wanted to say hats off to the Bailey campaign,” Stamps said in 2019, adding that he pledged his full support on the things the two could align on to move Mississippi forward.
When the dust settled and the 2019 results were certified, the candidates were separated by 2,022, with Bailey winning 50.35% and Stamps gaining 49.65%. The total votes cast were 291,170.
Now, four years later, the vote total is almost exactly reversed between Stamps and Bailey, this time with Stamps the likely winner and Bailey debating whether to contest the results or concede. There’s been no official word either way from Bailey’s campaign as of publication.
The three-man Public Service Commission (PSC) will have all new faces when the new term starts in January 2024.
Current Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) did not seek re-election, instead choosing to run for Governor, a race which he lost to Governor Tate Reeves (R). State Rep. Chris Brown won the Republican Primary in the Northern District and was unopposed in the General Election.
In the Southern District, newcomer Wayne Carr upset Commissioner Dane Maxwell in the Republican Primary. Carr was also unopposed in the General Election.
Stamps said having all three new members is exciting.
“We get a chance to study the past, assess where we are now, chart a course for the future,” Stamps said. “I hope we can keep the group together for an extended period of time because I know how slow government is. It takes 10-12 years to really have a substantive impact in a role like this. I know, for me, I’m not going to run for anything else. I’m going to stay right here, hopefully 12-16 years.”
Stamps said he has worked with Brown in the Mississippi House of Representatives and looks forward to meeting Carr.
“I hope we can stick together for a long time, roll our sleeves, and really get some good work done for Mississippi,” Stamps said.
Looking ahead, Stamps said being a former local elected official will benefit him as a new Commissioner as well as be an asset for those who come before the PSC.
“I’m looking forward to bringing local government experience and state government experience and federal experience [to the PSC] because it’s been a while since someone has served at the local level and actually ran a struggling utility,” Stamps, a former Jackson City Councilman, said. “Having the understanding of what utilities are dealing with when they come before me they see somebody who understands and can add some voice to help other commissioners, and as we sit around and try to solve problems, to bring a little more understanding to the whole process.”
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