Mayor’s election Tuesday|Weather expected to be clear, sunny

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 1, 2009

Attention turned to numbers and turnout as the day neared for Vicksburg voters to decide between staying the course with two-term independent Mayor Laurence Leyens or setting out on a new path by electing attorney and political newcomer Paul Winfield.

Polls at 11 precincts in the city will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those who are unsure of where they need to vote can contact the City Clerk’s Office at 601-636-3716.

Election day

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Polls across Vicksburg will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

The weather should not keep voters from the polls, as the forecast is calling for clear, sunny skies all day Tuesday and only a 10 percent chance of a stray shower. The Winfield campaign is offering free rides to the polls by calling 601-638-8683.

The tally will be conducted at City Hall.

By the numbers:

• The May 5 Democratic primary produced the lowest turnout in recent history, with 3,165 votes cast — just 16.8 percent of the 18,480 names on voter rolls. Winfield bested Gertrude Young, John Shorter and Tommy Wright in the race, garnering 1,915 votes — or 61.6 percent — enough to avoid a primary runoff.

• Turnout was also higher in the 2005 primary election, with 4,298 votes cast. Warren County District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon eventually beat John Ferguson in a runoff.

• Leyens won the general election with 3,959 — 55 percent — of the 7,166 total votes. Selmon received 2,779 votes.

If elected, Leyens, 45, would be the first mayor to be voted into a full third term since Johnny Holland, who served as mayor from 1957 until 1968. In what was his first bid for elective office, Leyens defeated Robert Major Walker, who was the voters’ choice for one special term and two full terms. Mostly in the 1980s, former Mayor Demery Grubbs also served one special term and was elected for two additional terms.

Leyens pledged to clean up the police department, increase beautification efforts in the city and bolster economic development. His campaign slogan this year simply reads: “Results.” He’s been touting the successes of his urban renewal project, the revitalization of downtown, improvements to city infrastructure and the positive sales tax receipts in Vicksburg during a national economic recession and the need to keep processes going, including a plan to use currents in the Mississippi River to generate electricity.

While Winfield, 35, majored in political science at Ole Miss, is treasurer for the state Democratic party and was a delegate for President Barack Obama at the national convention last year, he has not run for a political office previously.

He is currently serving his fifth term as city attorney for Port Gibson and was the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ attorney from 2005 to 2008. Included in his campaign platform are pledges to expand the city’s recreation department, as well as create more neighborhood policing, affordable housing and cooperation between city and county officials.

Winfield’s campaign has focused both on promoting a platform he calls HEAL — for it’s focus on housing, economic development, adequate policing and leadership — and criticizing the Leyens’ administration for catering to only a privileged portion of the city’s approximately 26,400 residents since 2001.

No Republicans filed in the mayoral race, which will be the lone item on the ballot Tuesday. Both North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield and South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman are unopposed in the election and will continue serving in their second and third terms, respectively. The annual salary for the mayor is $81,033.68 and for aldermen, $64,827.10.

Other Mississippi cities who will elect a mayor on Tuesday include Jackson, Tupelo, Biloxi, Gulfport and Meridian. Greenville, McComb and Natchez are among the cities not having elections this year.


Polling locations

• Auditorium — Vicksburg City Auditorium, 901 Monroe St.

• Cedar Grove — Rolling Acres Community Center, 131 Elizabeth Circle

• St. Aloysius — St. Aloysius School gym, 1900 Grove St.

• American Legion — American Legion Post 3, 1712 Monroe St.

• Vicksburg Junior High School — Warren Central Junior High School, 1630 Baldwin Ferry Road

• No. 7 fire station — No. 7 fire station, 3217 Washington St.

• Elks Lodge — Elks Lodge No. 95 BPOE, 1366 U.S. 61 South

• Plumbers/pipefitters — Plumbers/Pipefitters Union Hall, 3203 North Frontage Road

• Kings gym — Kings Community Empowerment Center, 224 R.L. Chase Circle

• Carpenters Union Hall — Carpenters Union Hall, 4589 U.S. 61 South

• Porters Chapel Methodist Church — Porters Chapel Methodist Church, 200 Porters Chapel Road


Contact Steve Sanoski at