The Diamondhead City Council met in special session on Friday to reschedule the special mayoral election.

The council set the nonpartisan election for Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the Diamondhead Community Center for Wards 2, 3 and 4 and at City Hall for Ward 1.

The seat became vacant when Mayor Thomas E. “Tommy” Schafer died on July 31 from complications after surgery. The election had been set for Sept. 15, but the council voted to postpone it on Monday because Hurricane Sally at the time appeared to be headed for the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the 15th, and some Diamondhead residents were under evacuation orders.

Although Councilwoman Nancy Depreo and Richard Willis were the only candidates who had qualified for the Sept. 15 election, city officials were initially told that if they postponed the election, they would have to begin the qualifying period all over again.

However, officials said, that turned out to be incorrect, and the council on Friday ordered that the "candidate qualifying deadline was Aug. 26, 2020 at 5 p.m., and by resolution of the council, will not be reopened, thus rendering the election a contest amount those candidates having so qualified for the election previously scheduled for Sept. 15."

The council further determined Friday that the absentee ballots already cast for the Sept. 15 election -- either in-person or by mail -- would be considered and reviewed by the Election Resolution Board.

"The Municipal Election Commission will include all such lawfully cast absentee ballots previously cast in the final election results in the same manner as other absentee votes that shall be hereafter cast for the Oct. 20, 2020 special election," according to the council's order Friday. "It is the intention of the City of Diamondhead that all votes should be counted to ensure that each elector has their vote properly counted. In addition, all registered voters that have not previously cast an absentee vote will be allowed to continue to vote absentee in the time and manner required and allowed by law for the Oct. 20, 2020 special election."

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