5 mayoral hopefuls have spent $48,000|[4/29/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

Getting their message out is the biggest part of any political campaign, and so far five of the seven candidates seeking the city’s highest elected office have spent almost $48,000 in that effort.

So far, spending by the incumbent, Laurence Leyens, tops all others and is equal to the highest pay range for a Vicksburg Police patrolman and $800 more than what school teachers in the Vicksburg Warren School District make their first year.

With five days left before the primary election, Democratic hopeful John Ferguson became the last candidate for mayor to turn in financial statements to the City Clerk’s Office on Thursday, missing the deadline by two days. DaVon Grey, Democratic candidate in the South Ward alderman’s race, also submitted his reports.

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The next reports are due May 10 if there is a primary runoff election.

Ferguson’s reports show he has received $5,335, but his detailed listing added up to $1,300. State law requires candidates to turn in statements of receipts and disbursements of $200 or more, but it leaves them free to accept contributions for less without disclosing the sources. Ferguson reported spending $3,270.

Independent candidates and Republicans who are unopposed in the primary will be required to file financial reports along with winners of Tuesday’s primary elections on May 31.

Leyens, whose re-election campaign filed as a political committee with the state, was also required to make a report this week. It showed Leyens still leads the pack in contributions with $72,000 so far, less than half of which has been spent.

Ferguson is currently in third place for contributions behind Leyens and Selmon.

According to their financial reports, so far the biggest expense for the mayoral candidates has been advertising which added up to 65 percent of all their spending. Billboard advertisement at $15,865 accounts for about half that cost.

Other leading costs in advertising expenses have included $8,883 for signs, $4,142 in newspaper print advertisements, $1,120 for video expenses and $617 for radio.

The mayor is paid $73,500 annually.

Vicksburg voters will head to the polls Tuesday to narrow the list of candidates down by selecting winners in three Democratic primary races. Because there are only three Republican candidates, one in each race, and none are opposed for the nomination they will skip the primary and advance to the June 7 general election.

On the ballots Tuesday for mayor will be Ferguson, 63; Rawlings, 42; Selmon, 44; and John Shorter, 38.

The winner faces Republican Shirley Newman Smollen, 69, and independent candidates Leyens, 40, and former Mayor Joe Loviza, 65, in the general election.

Grey’s statements show that he has financed all of his campaign spending, $582, with his own money. Grey, 46, faces Pam Johnson, 39, in the South Ward alderman’s race for the Democratic nomination. The winner will advance to face incumbent Sid Beauman, 57, a Republican seeking his second term, in the general election.

In the North Ward race, incumbent Gertrude Young, 49, faces challenges from Rodney Dillamar, 45, and Michael Mayfield, 47. Independent candidates in that race are Vickie Bailey, 37, and Tommie Rawlings, 42. The Republican in that race is Carl Yelverton, 58.