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TCL Ryshonda Harper Beechem Pelahatchie Mayor Elect

Mississippi town elects woman as 1st African-American mayor
from The AP
June 15, 2017 -

PELAHATCHIE, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi town has elected its first African-American mayor.

The Clarion-Ledger reports Ryshonda Harper Beechem was elected in Pelahatchie on June 6. The 37-year-old Mayor-elect will assume office in her hometown on July 1. She'll also be the first African-American mayor in Rankin County.

Pelahatchie roughly is 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Jackson, has a population of 1,340 and is 60 percent white.

Outgoing mayor Knox Ross says it's no big surprise to him that Beechem won because it was a three-candidate race in a nonpartisan general election without a runoff. Ross has been mayor since 2001 and didn't seek reelection.

Beechem says she thinks the unknown scares people but, "I would hope being an African-American doesn't play a factor in that. I love everybody in this town."

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