City elections cranking up with new year

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 7, 2005

[1/2/05] Bumper stickers are popping up across Vicksburg and at least one candidate has kicked off what he promises will be a big campaign all before the first name has been placed on ballots that won’t be cast for five months.

It’s that time of year again.

Vicksburg’s municipal primary election will be May 3, followed by the general election for three posts on June 7. Terms begin July 4 for mayor and two aldermen.

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Area cities that will be holding elections on those same days include Rolling Fork, Anguilla, Cary, Utica and Mayersville.

The qualifying period when candidates can file paperwork to get on the ballot could begin as early as this week, or whenever forms are made available by the City Clerk’s Office. They are also available only from the Secretary of State’s Office.

Candidates seeking a party’s nomination have until March 4 to submit to the party a statement of intent to appear on the primary ballots. If none of the candidates gets a majority of votes for the nomination, the top two vote-getters move on to a runoff on May 17.

Warren County District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon, 44, also president of the Board of Supervisors, has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for mayor and his green and white bumper stickers have been showing up on vehicles for more than a month.

Selmon will face at least one challenger for the nomination Eric Rawlings, 42, who ran unsuccessfully in the primary four years ago against then-Mayor Robert Walker. Rawlings, too, has announced his candidacy.

Also to appear on the primary ballot, at least in the North Ward, will be two veteran politicians set to slug it out for the Democratic nomination.

Incumbent Alderman Gertrude Young, 49, has said she will seek her fourth, four-year term representing city residents in the North Ward. Most of that same area is represented by the Warren County supervisor from District 2, held for three terms by Michael Mayfield, who has said he will also seek the Democratic nomination for the city spot.

Both candidates handily won re-election in their previous races, Young won with 60 percent of the vote in 2001, and Mayfield won with 83 percent in 2003, but this year they will have to contend with new voters added to the North Ward since the last election.

About 1,000 voting-age residents were moved from the South Ward to the North Ward last year. Most are in the Marcus Bottom area and vote at the Vicksburg Junior High School precinct.

While those two primary races are shaping up, candidates who will run without party backing are also starting to line up to be on the ballot. Candidates who do not seek party nominations don’t appear on primary ballots and, to be on the general election ballot, must submit signatures of at least 50 registered voters to the City Clerk’s Office.

Among those who say they plan to seek office as an independent is incumbent Mayor Laurence Leyens. Leyens, 40, won his first political office four years ago with 52 percent of the vote in a field of four candidates.

In that race, Leyens outspent all of his opponents 4-1. Leyens kicked off his new campaign months ago at a private fund-raiser.

If his second bid for office is successful, Leyens will have become the first mayor to win a second consecutive term in 15 years. The last was Walker who won a second term in 1989 after winning a special election in 1988.

Following 1989, Walker was defeated by Joe Loviza in 1993, then beat Loviza in 1997 and then lost to Leyens.

Four years ago, turnout may have been a factor in the outcome of the mayor’s race. It was down by about 700 voters from 1997 and down about 1,515 voters from 1993.

About half of the 17,603 registered voters turned out for the 2001 election.

Three other candidates for North Ward aldermen have also said they plan to run as independents: Tommie F. Rawlings, 41, brother of Eric Rawlings; Vickie Bailey, 36, director of the city’s Jackson Street Community Center; and Carl Yelverton, 58, a casino security guard.

So far, incumbent Alderman Sid Beauman, 57, is the only candidate who has announced plans to be in the South Ward race and the only Republican in the municipal elections. The Republican primary election will also be May 3.