Winfield: Textbook campaign proves successful

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Not just a win, but a convincing win.

Paul Winfield, who four weeks ago polled 1,916 votes to win the Democratic primary, eclipsed that number and gathered almost 1,000 votes more than the total votes cast in the primary to claim the office of mayor of Vicksburg on Tuesday.

All supporters of two-term incumbent Laurence Leyens could do was look on in seeming disbelief as a well-oiled Winfield machine ran its election day game plan, posting results showing 4,238 votes for the first-time office-seeker. Leyens’ total, 2,632, was down almost 1,500 votes from the votes he received four years ago in defeating Charles Selmon, the Democratic nominee in 2005.

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Winfield spent almost a year sweating the details, organizing a textbook campaign and putting it into action.

If he brings the same level of precision to managing the city’s business he did to getting elected, the community will be well-served.

Leyens has been an effective mayor, aggressive in his belief in the city’s future and open and candid in his assessments about what should be done. Many had disagreements with him over single events or incidents, but there’s no question he took municipal operations to a new level of activity and accountability.

Regardless, the mantle of local government now falls on the shoulders of Winfield, 35, an attorney making quick and significant strides in party politics as an officer of the state Democratic Executive Committee and as a delegate to the National Democratic Convention that nominated President Barack Obama. Winfield says he will not only keep up the pace Leyens set, but will increase it and make the city more inclusive.

Of course, there’s immediate speculation about who’s in and who’s out. Vicksburg’s trio of elected officials is charged in the city charter with electing corporate officers — police and fire chiefs, city attorney, judge and other posts — at their first official meeting. There’s been change before. There will be again.

For today, however, know this: The era of casual campaigns in Vicksburg might have come to an end. Winfield’s win was a result of a lot of planning and a lot of work. Translating that energy to City Hall is crucial.