Harrison County

Judges headed to a runoff for chancery seat over Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties

Sandy Steckler, left, and Margaret Alfonso are headed to a runoff election Tuesday for the Chancery Court judge position that serves Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties.
Sandy Steckler, left, and Margaret Alfonso are headed to a runoff election Tuesday for the Chancery Court judge position that serves Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties. Sun Herald file

Incumbent Chancery Judge Sanford R. “Sandy” Steckler and challenger Margaret Alfonso will likely face each other in a runoff on Nov. 27.

Unofficial results from two of the three counties in District 8 show Steckler with about 45 percent of the vote and Alfonso 42 percent in a race that included a third candidate, Dianne Herman Ellis.

For 17 years, Steckler has served in the judicial seat that encompasses Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties. During his tenure, he said, he has “worked to protect the families and children that have come before me,” and, among other things, has been served by appointment of the state Supreme Court on a commission for the protection of children and disabled adults.

Alfonso, the first woman ever elected as as Youth Court judge for Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties, reached out to thank her supporters Tuesday evening.

“I appreciate the hard work of so many people and the support of so many people,” she said. “I look forward to implementing the ideas I ran on, which is bring CASA (court-appointed special advocates) to Chancery Court, starting a mental health court for those that are involuntarily committed for mental illness and to provide aftercare and case management for them and to improve access to civil courts for those that live in poverty and can’t afford it.”

During her tenure as Youth Court judge, Alfonso has achieved such honors as being the 2010 co-recipient of the state Bar’s Judicial Excellence Award, the the first woman statewide to earn such recognition.

In the bid for Alfonso’s replacement as Harrison County Youth Court Judge, contenders Anna Ward Sukmann and Mike Dickinson garnered enough votes to meet again in a runoff bid.

Dickinson, the son of a former presiding state Supreme Court Justice Jess Dickinson, garnered about 26 percent of the vote, compared to Sukmann’s 23 percent.

Dickinson and his wife are foster parents.

As part of his campaign, Dickinson said that being a “foster dad ignited a passion in my heart for helping these vulnerable children in any way I possibly could.”

A practicing attorney for 14 years, Sukmann is currently with the law firm, Perry, Murr, Teel & Koenenn.

Over the years, she said in her campaign, she has “learned the value of hard work, a commitment to God and country and will protect the rights of real people just like you.”

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