Jackson County election commissioners had to plow through hundreds of absentee and affidavit ballots to determine who would face attorney Tanya Hasbrouck in the Chancery Court runoff on Nov. 27.
And the winner is Ashlee Cole Trehern.
Certified votes announced Thursday by election commissioners show Hasbrouck received 14,288 votes, with Trehern receiving 12,036 votes.
Trehern beat Gary. L. Roberts by 88 votes.
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The winner of the runoff will preside over Chancery Court cases in Jackson, George and Greene counties.
The numbers at the end of the Nov. 6 midterm election in all three counties had Hasbrouck out front with 13,310 votes, and attorney Ashlee Cole Trehern in second place with 54 votes more than former Gautier city judge Gary Roberts. (Runoffs occur when there are more than two candidates and no one gets more than 50 percent.)
That gap widened to 110 when Greene and George counties had counted all but a very few of their absentees and affidavits on Friday.
Jackson County, however, had hundreds of these ballots cast either before election day as absentees or on election day with voters signing an affidavit because of some mix up.
Candidates watched cautiously this week as the Election Commission processed and counted the votes, because Roberts led Trehern in Jackson County by 690 votes in election-day voting.
But as often happens in elections, absentee and affidavit voting matched the trends of machine votes cast on election night and Trehern came out the winner.
“I’m finally glad to know who my opponent is going to be,” Hasbrouck said. “It’s full speed ahead now.”
Trehern also said she is ready to continue campaigning.
“I am definitely excited in the runoff vote difference between me and Gary Roberts,” Trehern said.
“I have some really good supporters who were waiting to see the outcome and now we’re ready to continue working hard for 12 days. I feel very blessed.”
Hasbrouck, 57, began her professional career as a registered nurse and then became an attorney.
She has been practicing law for 28 years, and has held jobs that served the public full-time for 15 of those years.
She has a private law practice in Pascagoula where she does family law, Social Security disability and youth court and is the board attorney for the West Jackson Utility District in St. Martin. She is the public defender for the cities of Gautier and Pascagoula.
Before that, she was an assistant district attorney for 12 years in Jackson, George and Greene counties — nine under Tony Lawrence and three under Dale Harkey.
She worked for Cumbest, Cumbest, Hunter and McCormick. She worked with Bryant, Colingo, Williams and Clark and was an assistant public defender for Jackson County for two years. She began her career as a law clerk at the Mississippi Supreme Court.
She said becoming a judge is a way of “helping facilitate people to move on with their lives. My focus has been helping people and doing what’s best for children, and this is a great next step.”
She is a past president of the Jackson County Bar Association and past president of Jackson County Young Lawyers and currently serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Center for Legal Services. She lives in Pascagoula and has one son who is in his third year of college.
Hasbrouck’s voter strength is in Jackson County, where she received 12,020 votes on Nov. 6.
Ashlee Cole Trehern
Trehern, 31, has been a city prosecutor in Moss Point for three years, appointed at the age of 27.
She is a special master in Chancery Court, hearing uncontested divorces and other testimony, appointed by former Chancery Court Judge Jaye Bradley, little over a year ago.
She opened her first law office in Pascagoula in 2014 and a second office in Lucedale in January. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and a law degree from the University of Mississippi. Her focus is family law.
She is a former law clerk for Bradley and has been appointed guardian ad litem by chancellors in the district.
Trehern said she is from Hurley, where she still lives, graduating from East Central High School. Her voter strength was in Hurley and George County, where her husband is from. She garnered 8,864 votes in Jackson County, which has the largest number of registered voters in the three-county region.
She said a strong social media presence was big in her campaign and she used billboards, name recognition and a group of supporters for her success.
She said the rural areas are her stronghold. She said he has taken flak for her age, but thinks it’s to her advantage.
“I’m fresh and not desensitized to people‘s problems. I think I have some fresh ideas to get people out of the system and moving on with their lives,” Trehern said.
She has two toddlers, one of which is adopted.