2013 electionsSix in — or nearly in — mayor’s race

Published 11:30 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

With nearly four months remaining before qualifying begins for city elections, six Vicksburg residents say they will or might be candidates for mayor.

Business owners Linda Fondren and David Day, state Rep. George Flaggs, John Shorter and former North Ward Alderwoman Gertrude Young are looking to challenge to Paul Winfield, who has said he will take a second shot at the position elected by the city’s 18,480 registered voters.

In addition to Winfield, three of them — Flaggs, Shorter and Young — have sought the position before.

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Shorter ran in 2005 and 2009; Young, in 2009; and Flaggs, in 1997.

The qualifying period at the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall to be a candidate for mayor or either of the aldermanic seats opens Jan. 2 and ends March 8, City Clerk Walter Osborne said.

Primary election will be May 7, and the general election will be June 4. Elected officials are sworn in on July 1.

Three of the six say they definitely are running — Fondren, Winfield and Young.

• Winfield, 39, a Democrat, has said several times during the year that he plans to seek a second term, but said last week he will make an official announcement about his intentions at an unspecified date.

A lawyer, he created controversy during the first 2½ years of his term by serving as the city attorney for Port Gibson at a salary of $30,000 a year while serving as Vicksburg mayor, a job the city charter defines as full-time. He resigned in December from the Port Gibson post.

He also is a co-defendant with the city in a $1.5 million sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Kenya Burks, his former chief of staff who was fired in 2011. Burks claims she had an consensual affair with Winfield and later was subjected to a hostile work environment and retaliation after the relationship soured.

• “I am definitely running,” Fondren, 57, said, adding she is running as a Democrat and she, too, will make an official announcement later.

She owns Shape Up Sisters, Vicksburg Self Storage, Magnolia Self Storage and is a real estate developer.

• Young, 57, is running as a Democrat. She served 12 years as North Ward alderwoman and mayor pro tem before losing her bid for a fourth term to North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield in 2005. She ran second to Winfield in the 2009 Democratic primary for mayor. She also served on the first NRoute Board of Commissioners in 2007. She left the board after Winfield was elected in 2009.

She is a real estate broker with Perry Realty and was a registered nurse for 30 years. She is the Warren County coordinator for U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson’s re-election campaign and said he will announce her candidacy officially after the November elections.

• Flaggs, 59, a Democrat, said he is definitely considering running for mayor. He is Warren County’s senior delegate to the Mississippi Legislature, having been a member of the House of Representatives for 25 years, and has been an administrator at the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center in Vicksburg for 25 years.

“I’m talking with a cross-section of the community to decide whether I should run,” he said.

• Day, 53, is the owner of the Klondyke, a restaurant on North Washington Street. He also is considering the race and would run as an independent.

“We’re talking with people in the city, we want to see if it’s something viable to do,” he said.

• Shorter, 46, the Warren County Democratic Executive Committee chairman, is the receiving manager at Tractor Supply Co. He said he, too, is talking with people about entering the race.

“A lot of the people who left me last time for the imagery are coming back,” he said. “You’ve got to have substance, not imagery. I told them that.”

Shorter challenged former Mayor Laurence Leyens’ bid for a second term in 2005, but lost in the Democratic primary. He ran again in 2009, finishing third to Winfield in the Democratic primary.