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Young, Beauman elected aldermen

[06/06/01] Vicksburg will see a more aggressive Board of Mayor and Aldermen in the next four years, Sidney H. Beauman predicted after winning the South Ward alderman’s seat Tuesday.

The 53-year-old Republican beat out independents Vickie Bailey, who was making her second run for the post, and Ashlea Mosley and Democratic primary winner Pam Johnson by 2,176 votes for the $45,491-a-year post.

North Ward voters returned Gertrude Anderson Young for a third term, but not without a challenge from independent Sylvester Walker, 41. Young, 45, took 2,107 of the 4,491 votes cast as turnout fell in North Ward. She was favored in four of the five, the exception being St. Aloysius.

Young attributed her success to her grassroots efforts with the people. “I return their phone calls, and I care,” Young said.

The election of a new mayor and a new South Ward alderman will not be a difficult adjustment for Young, she said. “This is not the first time,” Young said. “I always focus on my job and vote my conscience.”

Walker, 40, a wallpaper contractor who ran as an independent, said he is already planning to run again. “I wanted to bring back fairness and trust to the community,” Walker said about this election.

Beauman won five of the South Ward’s six precincts with 3,184 votes and had his strongest showing at the Elks Lodge, with 859 votes. Bailey took 1,008 votes and won the Vicksburg Junior High precinct by 143 votes. Johnson came in third with 413 votes, followed by Mosley with 69.

“I think there’s going to be a more progressive and real look in what’s going to happen in the city,” Beauman said. “I think it will be a different type of administration, a more aggressive administration.”

When the board is sworn in on July 1, Beauman will replace Republican Sam Habeeb, who did not seek re-election.

Habeeb said he is optimistic changes will be made and that Beauman will fare well.

“His principles are in general agreement with mine,” Habeeb said. “I’m sure he’ll vote his conscience. I’m hopeful with the new administration, you will see a better priority system in place.”

Habeeb will begin working as a full-time attorney for the state Tax Commission on July 1, but isn’t certain yet if he will move to Jackson.

Beauman has served as director for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department for eight years and said he will miss that job, but he feels he can do more for Vicksburg in City Hall. He will serve as fire and ambulance commissioner, cemetery commissioner, airport liaison, city garage commissioner, urban renewal liaison and commissioner of the rec department.

“I loved what I was doing,” he said. “But I know there’s more out there than recreation.”

In the city’s division of duties, Young administers public buildings and the water and gas administration for the city.

Beauman said he learned knocking on doors people want change and he has a kinship with Mayor-elect Laurence Leyens. “We weren’t brought up in politics,” he said. “We’ve been out there working to earn a living, and I think that’s going to be the difference.”

Beauman also said he wants to see a more open city government.

“I don’t believe in closed meetings,” he said. “I think the public has a right to know what’s going on.”

He also said he’s confident he’ll be able to address racial issues. “I’ve been taught all my life, when you look at a person, you see a person,” Beauman said. “I don’t see race or gender. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to do something for all of Vicksburg, black or white.”

Bailey, who serves as the assistant director of youth services, said she did believe race played a part in voting.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” Bailey said. “It’s nice to see blacks crossed racial lines in the mayor’s race, but whites didn’t in the South Ward. But that’s Vicksburg for you.”

Bailey, 33, ran against Habeeb in the the 1997 election and came in second with 30 percent of the votes. She said she still believes she is the most qualified person for the position.

Newcomer Johnson, 35, said she is satisfied with the results.

“I think it’s great the way it turned out,” she said. “The people voted in who they wanted.”

Johnson said she doesn’t plan to run again but she had a great time and is glad she went for it.

“I’m the type of person who loves challenges,” Johnson said. “I’ve always been told you can only fail if you don’t try. I tried and the people spoke.” Johnson said she wishes success for the winners and prays Vicksburg will be led in the right direction.

Another newcomer, Mosley, 18, said she felt her age played a part in the numbers.

“I am surprised at the number of votes I got because of my age and lack of experience,” she said. She also said she wouldn’t rule out running in the future.

Of his first political bid, Walker said it has whetted his appetite for more, but added that Young ran a good and fair campaign.

Young won the May 1 primary election by defeating Democrat Joe Pratt, 67, and Democrat Rodney Dillamar, 41.