Walker, Leyens file for mayor

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 5, 2001

At left, Kaki Leyens looks on as her husband, Laurence Leyens, files and signs his papers with City Clerk Walter Osbourne Friday as an independent candidate for the mayor’s race. At right, Mayor Robert Walker files at the City Clerk’s office Friday as a Democratic candidate for the mayor’s race. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[03/05/01] The suspense of who will be running for the city’s three elected positions ended Friday as the deadline passed to qualify for the May 1 primary and June 5 general election.

Of the five candidates vying for mayor’s office, incumbent Robert M. Walker and developer Laurence Leyens were the last to file. Also filing Friday in the South Ward alderman’s race were Sidney H. Beauman Jr., director of the city’s parks and recreation department, and Ashlea Mosley.

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No new candidates filed in the North Ward alderman’s race.

Walker, 56, will run for mayor for the fifth time as a Democrat and is seeking his second consecutive term. His name will appear on the May 1 Democratic primary ballot, where he will face fitness instructor Eric Rawlings, 38.

In announcing his reelection bid, Walker said the city has been in a less-than-stable economic condition each time he has been elected and that he wants a chance to lead the city during good times.

“I hope that voters will look at my total record,” Walker said.

The winner of that primary race will advance to the June 5 general election, where he will face three independent candidates for the $56,531-a-year post: Leyens, 36; former mayor Joe Loviza, 61; and retired family nurse practitioner Eva Marie Ford, 63.

A newcomer to political campaigns, Leyens said voters should know one important thing about him when casting their ballots.

“The bottom line is, I’m not Joe Loviza and I’m not Robert Walker,” he said. “Vicksburg needs and wants some real jobs in the community, and there is not time or patience for more political rhetoric.”

Leyens also stressed accountability in city government and the need to develop a long-term plan to attract new businesses and investors.

Lena Douglas also filed a petition to run for mayor as an independent but did not have the 50 signatures required to qualify before the deadline.

In the South Ward alderman’s race, Beauman, 52, initially filed as a Democrat, then changed to appear on the ballot as a Republican, saying that was his true party affiliation. That pits him against restaurant manager Sam Smith, 37, in the party primary race. The winner will go on to face the winner of the South Ward’s Democratic primary and independents Mosley and Vickie Bailey, 33, assistant director of the city’s Department of Youth Services.

“I feel like our city government needs to be more aggressive, and I’m pretty aggressive,” Beauman said.

Voters in Mississippi do not register along party lines but can vote for only one party during primary elections. Residents who cast ballots in the South Ward’s Republican primary will not be able to vote in the mayor’s Democratic primary race.

Mosley, 18, passed the G.E.D. test last year after having been home schooled. She said she is running for the office to generate interest in younger people in the political process.

“My age group can do something, and we can make a difference,” Mosley said.

The names of Pam Johnson, 35, owner of Top of The Line Hair Salon; Carl Marshall Upton, 41, a self-employed electrician; and former Warren County District 5 Supervisor Royce Eaves, 69, will appear on the Democratic ballot for the South Ward post.

If none of the Democratic candidate gets a majority of the vote, a runoff will be May 15.

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.

The primary winner will advance to face Sylvester Walker, 40, in the general election for the $45,491-a-year city post.