Loviza asked to drop out, says he won’t

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 16, 2001

[05/16/01] Attempts to pressure him out of the June 5 election will fail, former Mayor Joe Loviza said Tuesday.

But one of those organizing the effort, former Loviza campaign donor Steve Golding, said the retired community college dean should consider what’s best for the city.

Golding, whose river-based businesses are in Vicksburg, lives outside the city. In a letter asking people to write, call or visit Loviza and plead with him to drop from the race, he calls the election the most important turning point for Vicksburg in 50 years. If Loviza, who served one term as mayor form 1993-1997, stays in the four-person race, he will be viewed as the “spoiler,” Golding wrote.

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“I just sent (the letter to) 12 to 15 people who felt the way I do,” Golding said.

Loviza, 61, said he has gotten several letters asking him to drop out, but called it “politics as usual.” He said despite those letters, he believes he is the best qualified candidate and will not drop out.

“I owe it to the people who support me to stay in the race,” Loviza said.

Incumbent Robert Walker, 57, served from 1988 until being defeated by Loviza in 1993. Walker, in turn, ousted Loviza four years ago.

This year’s contest also features two others, Laurence Leyens, 37, who is making his first bid for office, and Eva Marie Ford, 63.

Walker polled only about half as many votes in the May 1 primary as in the general election four years ago, but speculation is that he will be re-elected if Loviza and Leyens split the vote Loviza received four years ago.

Leyens said this morning he had not seen the letter written by Golding and did not know about it.

“My campaign is about my platform and a lot of people are doing a lot of things, but I’m going to stay out of it,” he said.

In the letter, Golding calls for an intense effort to convince Loviza that dropping out of the race is in the best interest of Vicksburg.

“We can either reclaim our city and put it in the hands of a very responsible and progressive leader or we can simply let it continue on its deteriorating spiral,” Golding wrote. “He is running a distant third with no chance to win, so why not withdraw and let us unite and get Robert Walker out of City Hall.”

In the 1997 city elections, Golding, through his business, Golding Barge Company Inc., donated $500 to Loviza’s bid for re-election. Golding also donated to Loviza’s campaign in 1993.

Loviza, dean of Hinds Community College in Vicksburg before retiring, said that he appreciated Golding’s support in the previous campaigns, but he will not take it personally that Golding has picked another candidate this year.

“I don’t approach politics with my feelings on my cuffs,” Loviza said. “The thrill is in the chase.”

Campaign finance reports, which indicate donations to candidates, are due at the City Clerk’s Office one week before the election.

Golding, who developed Turning Leaf Subdivision, said that being a county resident should not exclude him from having a voice in the city elections.

“We live in a small community and when I go out of town, I tell people I’m from Vicksburg,” he said. “My children go to school in the city, I go to church in the city and my office is in the city.”

In other races on the June 5 ballot, two-term incumbent Gertrude Young, 45, won the Democratic nomination on May 1 and will face independent Sylvester Walker, 40, for the North Ward alderman’s post.

In the South Ward race, Republican primary winner, Sidney H. Beauman Jr., 52, and Democratic primary winner Pam Johnson, 35, will will face independent candidates Vickie Bailey, 33, and Ashlea Mosley, 18.