Possible candidates set wait-and-see strategy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Like chess masters contemplating their next moves, or wrestlers circling to find an opening, a handful of Natchez residents are watching to see what their chances would be in the run for mayor.

Two &045; including Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith, who took office in 2000 &045; have already made their decisions.

&uot;I like what I do &045; I like my job,&uot; Smith said. &uot;I like having a part in what’s going on in this city, and I’d like to continue to have a part in it.&uot;

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That being said, it hasn’t been the easiest four years to be mayor, especially since the entire nation has been experiencing hard economic times.

&uot;That, and the 14-month absence of the Queens (steamboats), which had an impact on tourism&uot; have made the job somewhat difficult, Smith said. &uot;But that (the economy) is going to get better, and that’s going to trickle down to us.&uot;

Meanwhile, District 2 Supervisor Henry Watts said that since he just took his first oath of office as supervisor, he’s not going to abandon that post to run for something else.

But others who have been rumored to be considering a run for mayor are being more coy &045; especially since the deadline for qualifying is still weeks away.

When asked about a possible run for Natchez’s top post, previous mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown’s only response was &uot;never say never Š but I will say I’ve been approached.&uot;

Darryl Grennell, vice president of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, also said he has been approached by citizens who want him to run.

&uot;Every day for the last four years,&uot; Grennell said. But that doesn’t mean he’ll run, he said, adding that &uot;I haven’t even talked it over with my family yet. It’s hard to say right now.&uot;

Late last week, M.L. &uot;Binkey&uot; Vines was planning on picking up the necessary papers at the City Clerk’s Office &045; but said that doesn’t mean he is 100 percent sure about running, either.

&uot;I’m definitely considering it at this time. I’m going to do a lot of praying,&uot; Vines said. &uot;The city needs to go in a new direction. We need jobs. And if there’s anything I can offer to help do that, I will.&uot;

Three others &045; past Chamber of Commerce Chairman Fred Middleton, Justice Court Judge Charlie Vess and Alderwoman Sue Stedman &045; said they’re still mulling over whether to run.

&uot;It’s certainly something I’m considering,&uot; Middleton said.

&uot;I’ve given it a lot of thought, but I haven’t made a decision yet,&uot; Stedman said.

&uot;I’ve had people asking if I would consider running,&uot; Vess said, adding that he believes his public service experience and ability to be an &uot;ambassador&uot; for Natchez would make him a good candidate.

However, Vess added that if he chose to step down from his Justice Court judge post, he would need to know that the court’s caseload was under control and that a highly qualified person would be available to take over his post.

Finally, although City Clerk Donnie Holloway’s name has also been spoken as potential candidate, his response was short and sweet &045; &uot;no comment.&uot;