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Three more put names on city ballots

Deputy City Clerk Edna Hadad waits as Eva Marie Ford signs as an independent candidate for the mayor’s race. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[03/02/01] With the deadline to qualify at 5 p.m. Friday, three more candidates added their names to Vicksburg ballots.

Eva Marie Ford filed Thursday as an independent for the mayor’s race, becoming the third candidate seeking the $56,531-a-year post.

In the South Ward alderman’s race, Pam Johnson, the owner of Top of The Line Hair Salon on Oak Street, filed Wednesday, and Carl Marshall Upton, a self-employed electrician, filed Thursday. Both filed as Democrats.

Candidates for the city’s three elected offices have until 5 p.m. Friday to qualify for the May 1 party primaries that will be held as needed or the June 5 general election.

At mid-day Friday, Mayor Robert M. Walker, who has won three contests for the city’s top office and lost one, had not filed to be on city ballots a fifth time. Also not filing, but running advertisements inviting the public to a campaign kickoff event was Laurence Leyens, a developer whose family operated a department store here for more than a century. Lena Douglas also has picked up papers for the mayoral race.

A retired family nurse practitioner and clinic administrator, Ford, 63, now works part-time at City Hall as an information officer. She said that her position at the front door of the city’s administration office will not be affected by the campaign.

“It shouldn’t,” Ford said. “I have the same rights everybody else has.”

As an independent, Ford’s name will not appear on the ballot until June 5 general election at the same time as former mayor Joe Loviza, 60, who is also running as an independent.

Fitness instructor Eric Rawlings, 38, filed as a Democrat and will appear on the May 1 Democratic primary.

Ford said she did not make the decision to run for mayor lightly, but that she wants to see the resources of the city divided equally across the town.

“Vicksburg needs to be cleaned up,” she said. “We look like the slums of Harlem up in North Vicksburg.”

In 1990, Ford made an unsuccessful run for the a spot on the local school board.

Warren County District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon picked up a set of qualifying papers, but said Thursday he will not seek the mayor’s office.

“I want to run,” Selmon said. “But, its just not the right time for me.”

In the South Ward race, Johnson, 35, became the fourth candidate. She said that she has always been interested in public office and decided to file after learning that incumbent Sam Habeeb would not seek a second term.

“I’ve always had a passion for serving and helping people,” she said. “We have to move forward and be an example to other cities.”

Upton, 41, said he decided to run after encouragement by friends and neighbors. Along with working with the youths and elderly, he said there are a lot of problems in the city that he want to work with a new administration to fix.

“We’ve got people in the South Ward who have been annexed into the city for 10 years or more and we still have not met their needs,” Upton said.

Johnson’s and Upton’s names will appear on the May 1 primary election Democratic ballot along with former Warren County District 5 Supervisor Royce Eaves, 69.

Others who have filed to seek the post are restaurant manager Sam Smith and Vickie Bailey, assistant director of the city’s Department of Youth Services.

Smith, 37, filed as a Republican to seek the $45,491 a year city post and is the only Republican in the race so far. If no other Republicans file today, the party will have no primary.

Bailey, 33, filed as an independent, and her name will not appear on the ballot until June 5.

Others who have obtained papers to seek the South Ward seat are former school administrator Ann Wheeless, Ashlea Mosley and Sid Beauman, director of the city’s parks and recreation department.

In the race for the North Ward alderman’s seat, four candidates have filed for the office. Those whose names will appear on the May 1 Democratic primary ballot are incumbent Gertrude Young, 45, business owner Rodney E. Dillamar, 41, and retired educator Jo Pratt, 67.

If no one else files before Friday’s deadline, the primary winner will advance to face Sylvester Walker, 40, in the general election.

Vicksburg Police detective Randy Naylor also obtained qualifying papers, but received a letter dated Monday from the city’s legal department that informed him that he would have to resign his position with the police department to seek public office.

According to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, civil service employees cannot campaign for elected office while they are employed with a municipality.

“We do not think that the legislative purpose is furthered by creating an exception that permits a civil service employee to claim exemption from the restrictions of these statutes by taking a leave of absence.”

“We conclude by saying that if he desires to seek election to municipal office, he should sever his employment relation with the municipality,” wrote Phil Carter in 1995 when he was an assistant attorney general regarding another civil service employee seeking public office.

While Ford and Bailey are also city employees, they are not in the civil service system, which is limited to firefighters and police officers.