Rules limit DeSoto officers' ability to hold office - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rules limit DeSoto officers' ability to hold office

By Chip Washington - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

SOUTHAVEN, MS (WMC-TV) - Political season is in full swing for municipal races in DeSoto County, but for several members of local enforcement seeking office, things were finished before they even started. 
It all comes down to Mississippi constitutional law when it comes to running for political office if you are a local law enforcement officer.

"If an individual is a municipal police officer, he is a part of the executive branch of government, whereas, if the individual is an Alderman, he is a member of the legislative branch," Southaven City Attorney Mark Sorrell said Monday.

That spells bad news for three DeSoto County sheriff's deputies and one Southaven police officer, who filed to run in the upcoming municipal elections and later had to drop out.

"You can run, but if your elected you have to make a decision. You have to decide if your going to be an Alderman or do you want to be a police officer or a deputy sheriff," Sorrell said.

Sorrell said a 2001 opinion by then Attorney General Mike Moore prohibits a person from simultaneously serving in two out of three branches in the same municipality.  According to Sorrell, although this is a legal 'opinion', it is not one to be challenged.

Sorrell said the matter is clear legally, but for those set on running it's about choices.

"You have a right to run, and if you're elected, you have a choice to make," he said.

Deputy Sheriff Chris Bradley, who qualified to run in Southaven's election, said Monday he has not yet dropped out of the race, and is trying one last ditch effort with the D.A.'s office.

Bradley added he would not sacrifice his job to win an election.

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