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Covington, Harper
head for homestretch

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
August 24, 2003
The two remaining candidates for the Lauderdale County District 1 supervisor's race said they are re-energized as they head into the last days of their campaigns before Tuesday's runoff.
And while Sidney Covington said she isn't worried about voter turnout on Tuesday, her opponent, Eddie Harper, said he is. Harper said he has heard estimates that 2,000 people may vote, down from the 3,713 who cast ballots on Aug. 5. District 1 has 8,541 registered voters.
Nevertheless, Harper said he will knock on doors and ask for votes until about 8 p.m. Monday. He said he plans to spend election day with his family.
Covington, meanwhile, spent Thursday night at a campaign rally and collecting campaign contributions. She would not say where the rally was held, adding that some of the money raised would go toward a media blitz that will last through Tuesday.
Covington said volunteers will be out in full force as election day approaches.
County runoff
Covington and Harper meet in the Republican Party runoff for District 1 supervisor. Because no other candidates are seeking the office, the winner of the runoff automatically gets the job.
The District 1 race is the only county runoff in Lauderdale County on Tuesday.
However, all voters in the county can still go to the polls to help settle three state races: The Democratic nominee for state treasurer and the GOP nominee for agriculture commissioner and state treasurer.
Polls will be open in Lauderdale County and across the state from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In Lauderdale County, most attention since the Aug. 5 party primaries has been focused on the District 1 supervisor's race. Five candidates originally sought the job; Covington and Harper advanced to the runoff.
As of Friday, Covington and Harper both insisted their opponent has run a clean race.
Harper, owner of Harper Electric Co., said he has concentrated on issues brought to his attention from District 1 constituents. He said people want to make sure their voice is heard on all the issues.
Harper maintains that if Covington is elected, she won't be able to vote on several issues that could be a conflict of interest for her because of land investments that she and her husband, developer Jimmy Covington, have.
Most recently, it has been disclosed that Jimmy Covington is part owner of land in the Hawkins Crossing area that has been identified as the site of a new interchange to serve an Interstate 20/59 Industrial Park. The commercial property is
listed as owned by Great South Development.
While industrial park property was purchased with county funds, a federal appropriation has been approved for the interchange.
Covington responds
Sidney Covington calls Harper's concerns a non-issue. She has said most of the land she and her husband own is actually located in the city of Meridian, not Lauderdale County.
She said the only land they own in Lauderdale County is a lot in Dalewood and a lot in the Eagle Pointe subdivision on which they expect to build a home.
She said she has concentrated her campaign on her experience as a business owner, educator, counselor and sewer district commissioner.
Rick Barry, attorney for the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, said he has answered questions on the issue for both candidates.
He said supervisors should recuse themselves from voting on issues when they stand to benefit, either directly or indirectly, from the outcome.
He said he takes the most conservative approach in recommending supervisors recuse themselves from votes whenever there is an "inkling" of a conflict of interest.
He also said whenever a situation like that comes up, the board can seek an opinion on whether there is a conflict of interest from the state ethics commission in much the same way state attorney general opinions are sought.