Reeves sets special election to fill House vacancy

May 20, 2022 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Friday set a special election to fill a state House seat vacated by Democratic Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes, who resigned earlier this month.

Williams-Barnes, 53, of Gulfport, took a job as Mississippi policy director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. She said the center supports many of the issues she has championed in office, including protection of voting rights and public education. She was first elected in November 2011.

Williams-Barnes was chairwoman of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus from 2014 to 2017. She led several other Black lawmakers in boycotting the Southern Legislative Conference meeting on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2017 to pressure Mississippi to get the Confederate battle emblem out of the state flag.

Lawmakers voted to retire the old flag in the summer of 2020, as protests were happening in the state and nation over racial injustice after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The special election will be held July 19 to fill the rest of her term, which ends in January 2024, Reeves said in a news release. The qualifying deadline is May 30.