Loviza files to reclaim mayor’s office

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 19, 2001

City Clerk assistant Sherry Liggins accepts former Vicksburg mayor Joe Loviza’s petition to appear on the June 5 ballot for mayor. Loviza filed as an independent. (The Vicksburg Post/PAT SHANNAHAN)

[02/19/01] Former mayor Joe Loviza made his campaign for the city’s highest office official Friday when he filed with the City Clerk’s Office to appear on the June 5 ballot.

Also adding his name to those who will appear in the May 1 primary election was restaurant manager Sam Smith, who became the first candidate to file for the South Ward alderman’s post.

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Loviza, 60, filed as an independent and will not appear in the primary election. With less than two weeks until the deadline, the former one-term mayor became the second candidate to file for the post.

“I believe in our city and know that we have a bright future full of pride, promise and prosperity,” he said.

At the heart of his campaign is what Loviza calls his 15-point plan for the future of Vicksburg. At the top of his list is reducing city property taxes by 20 percent.

“We have the resources to do it,” Loviza said. “We can adjust our thinking a little bit and give a tax cut to the people.”

To fund his proposed tax cut, Loviza said the city could reduce it’s budget through privatization of some city services and reducing the size of the city work force through attrition. Last year the city approved a $30.2 million budget and employs about 600 people.

Others who have expressed interest in running for the mayor’s office are incumbent Robert Walker, businessman Laurence Leyens and Warren County District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon. Fitness instructor Eric Rawlings filed last month for the $56,531-a-year post and will appear on the May 1 primary ballot.

Loviza has faced Walker, 56, twice before in the mayor’s race. In both elections, the incumbent lost.

During Loviza’s 1997 bid for re-election, Walker defeated him by a margin of 1,799 votes. Four years before, it was Loviza who undid Walker’s attempt for a second-full term by 116 votes.

During the 1997 campaign, Walker ran as a Democrat and Loviza as an independent. During the 1999 countywide election, Selmon, 40, ran as a Democrat for the District 3 position

Rawlings, 38, filed last month as a Democrat and will seek that party’s nomination in the mayor’s race during the May 1 primary election. Leyens, 36, has not said if he will seek a party nomination.

“It (party affiliation) won’t be important to me because I want to work with both Democrats and Republicans,” Loviza said.

In the South Ward race, Smith, 37, filed as a Republican for the $45,491-a-year post. In 19987, he ran for state representative, but lost to Democrat George Flaggs.

Other potential candidates for that position include Kings Community Center head Vickie Bailey, hairstylist Pam Johnson and businessman Travis Wayne Vance.

Incumbent Sam Habeeb has said he will not seek a second term.

Bailey ran as a Democrat and Vance as an independent against the Republican Habeeb four years ago. In that election, Bailey polled second, 546 votes behind Habeeb, and Vance came in third, 103 votes behind Bailey.

In the race for the North Ward alderman seat, two candidates have filed to appear on the May 1 ballot for the Democratic nomination.

Incumbent Gertrude Young, 45, will face business owner Rodney E. Dillamar for the seat. In the 1997 primary election, Young defeated Dillamar by 2,301 votes and went on unopposed in the general election to take her second four-year term in office.

Others who have said they will seek the post are Sylvester Walker, a wallpaper contractor, retired educator Josephine Pratt and Vicksburg Police Detective Randy Naylor.

Candidates have until March 2 to qualify for ballots. Party primary elections will be May 1, and the general election will be June 5.

The filing deadline is the same for independent candidates who will not appear on the primary ballot.

New residents in Vicksburg or those who have not voted in city precincts before have until March 30 to register to vote in the primary election or May 5 to vote in the general election. Registration forms can be turned in at the City Clerk’s Office or at the Warren County Circuit Clerk’s Office.