City candidate forum to be aired on cable TV|[4/21/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2005

Due to efforts by candidates, a forum held March 31 will be shown next week on Vicksburg Video cable Channel 17.

The videotape will be shown at 9:30 p.m. on April 27, 28 and 29. Copies are also available for $10 each by calling Paradise Productions at 601-364-9589.

Fifteen of the 16 candidates seeking municipal office took part in the City Auditorium event, but remarks of three were edited off the tape because they did not contribute to the production costs, said Cedric Tillman of Paradise Production. The remaining 12 candidates paid $30 each to have the forum recorded.

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Tillman identified the three not joining as sponsors as Democratic mayoral hopeful John Ferguson, Democratic South Ward candidate Pam Johnson and North Ward independent candidate Tommie Rawlings. It was Carl Yelverton, Republican candidate for North Ward alderman who did not appear at the forum.

The cable channel is normally used for community announcements. Vicksburg Video also makes Channel 23 available to the City of Vicksburg, but the mayor and aldermen have stood by a policy of not allowing “political programming” on the government-access channel they manage under the name RCTV 23.

The forum was sponsored by the Vicksburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the Mississippi Chapter of Blacks in Government and the Vicksburg Branch of the NAACP.

Vicksburg voters will go to the polls May 3 to pick Democratic nominees who will advance to the June 7 general election. There is one Republican in each race and all three advance to face Democratic nominees and independents.

Seeking the Democratic nomination in the race for mayor are former Warren County District 2 Supervisor Ferguson, 63; Eric Rawlings, 42, who ran unsuccessfully for the nomination four years ago; Warren County District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon, 44; and first-time office seeker John Shorter, 38, a contractor with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The winner will face Republican Shirley Newman Smollen, 69, and independent candidates Mayor Laurence Leyens, 40, and former Mayor Joe Loviza, 65.

In the North Ward primary, incumbent Gertrude Young, 49, is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by Warren County District 2 Supervisor Michael Mayfield, 47, and Rodney Dillamar, 45, a convenience store owner.

Independent candidates in that race are city employee Vickie Bailey, 37, and construction worker Tommie Rawlings, 42. The only Republican in that race is Yelverton, 58, a security guard at a local casino.

In the South Ward, former Vicksburg police officer DaVon Grey, 46, and local hair dresser Johnson, 39, are seeking the nomination and a chance to challenge incumbent Sid Beauman, 57, a Republican seeking his second term. There are no independent candidates in that race.

General election winners take office to start four-year terms on July 1.