Hattiesburg voters will take to the polls again on Sept. 24 to vote for mayor of the city in a special election.
The special election is the result of the contested June 4 election that declared incumbent Mayor Johnny DuPree winner by 37 votes.
DuPree was challenged in a court of law by opponent and former City Councilman Dave Ware on accusations of voter fraud and witness and juror intimidation.
After listening to testimony from key witnesses from the DuPree and Ware camps, the jury deliberated and decided in a 9-3 vote that Dave Ware was to be declared the winner of the June 4 election.
When Judge William F. Coleman polled jurors in open court, one of the jurors changed their original vote, making the vote 8-4 and leaving Ware without the nine necessary votes needed to secure the election win.
On July 30, Coleman declared the trial a mistrial, meaning neither camp was found guilty or innocent of any accusations made in court.
Following the verdict,, Ware quickly motioned for a special election. Coleman granted the motion on Aug. 15.
This election will make city history as it will be the first municipal election to occur while University of Southern Mississippi students are in town to vote.
Both candidates have encouraged Hattiesburg residents and college students to go to the polls on Sept. 24.
Because of the special election, students now have the unprecedented opportunity to let their voice be heard.
“It is absolutely important for students to go out and vote,” said Ned Nelson, a senior business administration major. “We are here for nine months out of the year.
“It’s integral to have a voice for USM,” he added.
Sarah-Beth Selph, a sophomore communication studies major, said that students should pay attention to each candidate’s record and platforms.
“Many USM students are probably unaware that these elections, and policies enacted by the winning candidate, affect all of our lives even if we only live here for a short amount of time,” Selph said.