Wallpaper contractor Walker to seek post in North Ward

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 17, 2000

Sylvester Walker, a wallpaper contractor and cosmetologist, announced plans Thursday to challenge North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young in June’s city elections.

Walker, a cousin to Vicksburg Mayor Robert Walker, said he has been involved in local political campaigns for years as a behind-the-scenes organizer and adviser, but had decided to make the leap from campaigner to candidate.

“The people have been given a lot of promises, but nothing has been delivered,” he said. “A change is coming, and it’s going to start with me.”

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Most recently, Walker, 40, was involved in an effort to promote an alternative site for the youth center being constructed on the site of the demolished Jackson Street YMCA.

Walker said the city needs more after-school recreation centers for children, particularly places where black and white students will feel equally comfortable.

He also advocated a senior citizen center in the North Ward. The city’s one center for seniors is adjacent to City Hall.

“I feel like the North Ward is a cup, and I want to fill that cup up with prosperity, and let it run over into the South Ward,” Walker said.

Walker is the second person this year to mount a challenge to Young. The first, store owner Rodney Dillamar, announced his candidacy last month. Dillamar also challenged Young when she won a second term in 1997.

Young was in Davenport, Iowa, Thursday along with a caravan of other city officials, inspecting a convention center run by Compass Facility Management. Compass is in consideration for a contract with the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Young has said she wants another term to continue projects started in her first two terms, including affordable housing, street paving and afterschool programs for children.

The groundbreaking for the Jackson Street youth center is scheduled for Monday.

No other candidates have publicly announced plans to run in the North Ward.

In the South Ward, Vickie Bailey, head of the Kings Community Center, has announced plans to run again for the seat she sought in 1997. Restaurant manager Sam Smith said he will also be in that contest.

Another candidate in the 1997 race, Travis Wayne Vance, has said he might make another run at the seat.

Vance and Bailey both finished behind South Ward Alerman Sam Habeeb in that race. Habeeb has said that he will not run for a second term.

Pamela Johnson, a hairstylist who once trimmed Oprah’s name into her hair for a television commercial, has also announced plans to compete in the South Ward.