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Deadline Saturday to register for city primary vote

[03/30/01] The deadline for Vicksburg residents to register to vote in the city’s May 1 primary election is noon Saturday, but City Clerk Walter Osborne said few people have done so.

Osborne said the city had 17,800 registered voters Monday and only one person has registered since.

Saturday’s deadline affects residents who have never voted in Vicksburg or have moved since the last election, in 1997. The deadline to register for the June 5 general election is May 5.

Absentee ballots for three party primary races are available at the City Clerk’s Office. Qualified voters can cast absentee ballots at City Hall until April 28 or mailed ballots can be received no later than April 30.

“One of our main concerns is that city precincts differ from county precincts,” Osborne said.

Warren County voters will join others across the state April 17 in choosing between keeping the state’s 107-year-old banner and a new design without the controversial Confederate battle flag. Two weeks later, city residents return to the polls, although some are at different locations, for the city primary vote.

“I think we may send out postcards to remind voters,” Osborne said.

Vicksburg voters can choose to vote Democratic or Republican in the party primary election, but can vote across party lines in the general election. In any potential primary run-off on May 15, voters will be allowed to cast ballots only in the same party in which they voted in the primary on May 1.

On the Democratic ballot, Mayor Robert Walker, 56, will face his first challenger, fitness instructor Eric Rawlings, 38, for the $56,531-a-year post. In the North Ward, Alderman Gertrude Young, 45, will face business owner Rodney E. Dillamar, 41, and retired educator Jo Pratt, 67.

In the South Ward, the Democratic ballot will pit Pam Johnson, 35, owner of a local hair salon, against Carl Marshall Upton, 41, a self-employed electrician.

The only Republican candidates in the primary races will be in the South Ward, where Sidney H. Beauman Jr., 52, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, and restaurant manager Sam Smith, 37, will vie for the the $45,491-a-year city post.

South Ward voters will have separate Republican and Democratic ballots. Voters who choose to cast a Republican ballot will not be able to vote in the mayor’s primary race.

The only possible run-off is in the North Ward race. If none of the candidates gets a majority of the votes, a run-off would be on May 15.

Winners in the primary elections will advance to the June 5 general election to face independent candidates.

In the race for the mayor’s office, the winner of the Democratic primary will face independents Laurence Leyens, 36, Joe Loviza, 61, and Eva Marie Ford 63. The candidate with the most votes in the general election wins and there is no run-off.

Both South Ward primary winners will advance to the city’s general election and face independents Ashlea Mosley, 18, and Vickie Bailey, 33, assistant director of the city’s Department of Youth Services.

There is no Republican primary in the North Ward races, and the winner will advance to face Sylvester Walker, 40, in the general election.