Mississippi's municipal primary and primary run-offs are in the books, but many towns and cities still face competitive races in the June 4 general election. Here are a few races political leaders are watching.

Meridian voters face a rematch. Four years ago, Republican Cheri Barry won the open mayor's seat over Democrat Percy Bland by 114 votes to keep the city in the GOP column. Now as her first term comes to an end, Barry faces Bland again, along with three independents: Wally Hudnall, Doug Nichols and Walter Patton. Meridian, Mississippi's sixth largest city, is more than 60 percent black: a demographic that skews Democratic. But the Republican Party is working to hold the Queen City and Governor Phil Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Congressman Gregg Harper have all been engaged to turn out the GOP vote and resources. Some controversy erupted during the Democratic Primary in Meridian when a noose was found hanging near Bland's (who is black) campaign headquarters. That matter is under investigation.

Right behind Meridian in population size is Tupelo, another Republican held seat heavily challenged by the Democrats. Popular Republican Mayor Jack Reed, Jr. chose not to seek a second term and Republican Fred Pitts, President of the Tupelo City Council is seeking the spot. Reed endorsed Pitts who has had events with Lt. Gov. Reeves and Republican State Chairman Joe Nosef, but not all Republicans are on board. GOP Councilman Jim Newell came out in support of Democratic nominee Jason Shelton who claims he is more fiscally conservative than Pitts. Shelton, a personal injury attorney, is 34 years junior to Pitts who has said on the campaign trail that "70 is the new 50."

While further down the list in population, Starkville (#15) and Ocean Springs (#24) remain high on the list in the Democratic political bench.

Starkville's Mayor Parker Wiseman seeks reelection to a second term, challenged by Republican Dan Moreland. Moreland is Chairman of the Starkville Parks Commission Board and formerly a justice court judge. An attorney, Wiseman is touted by Democrats as one of their future statewide leaders.

Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran used her position to springboard a run for statewide office in 2011 as the Democratic nominee for State Treasurer. She took 38 percent of the vote and lost to Republican Lynn Fitch in the open seat race. Now Moran seeks a third term as mayor of the Gulf Coast town known for its arts and tourism. Four years ago, despite being heavily outspent, Moran won a highly contested race against Republican Scott Walker by about 100 votes. Now Moran faces Republican Jackson County Supervisor John McKay. One issue surfacing in the campaign involves two trips McKay took on boats owned by the Mississippi Marine Resources Foundation, which is directed by Walker's father, Dr. Bill Walker, former Director of the Department of Marine Resources (DMR). Both the Foundation and DMR have come under intense media criticism and investigation. McKay claims he is not under investigation and that the linkage to him and the boat trips have been generated by Moran's campaign for political purposes.

Two other Democratic incumbent mayors face strong challenges by independents.

Oxford's (#20 by population) Democrat incumbent, Mayor Pat Patterson, is being challenged by independent Todd Wade, a former Ole Miss football standout and NFL player who runs a number of businesses in Oxford. Wade has made a real estate non-conflict-of-interest pledge an issue in the campaign and is mounting an aggressive campaign.

In Hattiesburg, Mississippi's third largest city, incumbent Democratic Mayor Johnny DuPree seeks his fourth term. He has no Republican challenger but four independents are in the race including Ward 4 Councilman Dave Ware who was elected to the city council as a Republican. Ware's campaign is holding a fundraiser in Madison for Jackson metro area supporters on Thursday, May 30, hosted by Jackie Fortenberry, Patty and Dwayne Self, and Karen and Andy Taggart.

In 2011, DuPree was the Democratic nominee for governor. Interestingly enough, two of his challengers in the Democratic gubernatorial primary also ran in mayoral races this year: Bill Compton who lost in the Republican Primary to Barry in Meridian; and Bill Luckett who defeated Representative Chuck Espy for the Democratic nomination in Clarksdale. In Clarksdale, Luckett is favored to win but faces Republican Angie Smith and independents Bradford air and Roger Weiner in the general election.

In Mississippi's fourth largest city, Southaven, incumbent Mayor Greg Davis, formerly a Republican but now an independent, faces a challenge by Republican insurance agent Darren Musselwhite and Democrat Coria Williams. Davis, under state investigation and court proceedings involving the misuse of city funds, and the disclosure in his personal life that he is gay, still retains some support in Southaven, but the GOP anticipates Musselwhite returning this city to the Republican column.

Brian Perry is a columnist for the Madison County Journal and a partner with Capstone Public Affairs, LLC. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms or @CapstonePerry on Twitter.