At the Porters Chapel United Methodist Church, 47 people had voted at 7:45 a.m. The turnout was described as normal by precinct manager Bob White, who was optimistic about participation for the election.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 5, 2001

“I think the way this election is, we should have a good turnout,” White said. “People really seem to be interested.”

Marylynn Teague, who described herself as a frequent voter, said she thought this election was particularly crucial to Vicksburg’s future.

“I think it’s time for Vicksburg to have a new direction,” Teague said. “And maybe if everybody comes out and votes for Laurence Leyens, we can get going in the right direction.”

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Hilary Westbrook, another self-described regular voter, had similar feelings on the need for change and the importance of voting.

“People need to come out because we need a change in the mayor position and the aldermen, too,” he said. “Everybody needs to be represented, and I think the (candidates) I voted for can do that.

At the Elks Lodge precinct, 84 voters had cast ballots by 7:30.

“We’ve had a pretty good turnout this morning,” said Mike Lloyd, precinct manager.

“It just opened, and there are already 25 [people] here,” he said.

Independent Joe Loviza, candidate for mayor, arrived at the lodge shortly after the doors opened to vote and to answer questions.

Loviza, 61, said this tight election is too hard to predict because the mayoral vote is split four ways.

As an outsider in this election, his efforts to appeal to the working people, some black some white, could bring him the mayoral seat, he said, despite the fact he was targeted in a visible campaign asking him to withdraw from the election to give Leyens a sronger chance at victory.

At the junior high school, 37 ballots had been cast during the first hour. Precinct manager Fred Shields described the turnout as real low.

“We normally average about 100 people per hour in the county elections,” Shields said.

Although turnout seemed low, voters did not seem discouraged by the debate over poll watchers.

“I voted for Walker and Vickie Bailey. Those are the candidates I think will do a good job for Vicksburg,” said Lios Price.

“I voted for Laurence Leyens because I would like to see a change in our city,” said Ginny Rosser.

At the auditorium, 98 ballots had been cast by 8 despite police and election officials.

“It’s looking real good,” Jones said. “But the weather this afternoon could kill it.”

The national weather service in Jackson is predicting a 70 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms with highs in the mid 80s.

Independent candidate Eva Marie Ford, 63, cast her ballot at the City Auditorium before problems arose. She said she felt good about Tuesday’s vote.

“We’re just hoping and praying that they’ll come out today and vote and hopefully they’ll vote for a change,” Ford said.

Certified totals from the May 1 primary elections show 6,229 voters cast ballots in advance or at the polls. In 1997, 5,722 ballots were cast in that year’s Democratic primary and 8,867 in the general election.

The latest count from the City Clerk’s Office shows 17,603 people eligible to vote in the municipal election.

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

In the South Ward, Republican nominee Sidney H. Beauman Jr., 52, and Democratic nominee Pam Johnson, 35, won their primaries and will face independents Ashlea Mosley, 18, and Vickie Bailey, 33.