Candidates make their final push

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 7, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; While the weekend may be 48 hours of blessed relaxation for the average Joe, it was exactly the opposite for Natchez’s three mayoral candidates.

Independent candidate Richard Branyan, Republican Alderwoman Sue Stedman and Democratic state Rep. Phillip West will face each other in Tuesday’s general election to become the city’s next mayor.

So on Saturday, they spent hours seeking out voters &045; albeit, mostly in already friendly crowds &045; to remind them to vote and bring their friends to the polls. And if the voter would agree to take a yard sign, campaign flier or sticker along the way, all the better.

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A car with a &uot;Barbour for Governor&uot; sticker still attached to its bumper was parked at the house ahead. Could be friendly territory.

At that house and dozens more like it in the Trees subdivision, Stedman and several College Republican volunteers dispatched from far-flung towns such as Jackson and Yazoo City made the rounds Saturday morning.

&uot;Hoping you’ll consider voting for Sue Stedman for mayor,&uot; one volunteer said, strolling in a &uot;Stedman for Mayor&uot; T-shirt up to a voter across the street.

At the &uot;Barbour&uot; household, Stedman rang the bell.

She came to the right place, the man of the house told Stedman. &uot;You won’t have a problem with this house or, as far as I know, this whole neighborhood,&uot; he said.

The man spoke of differences among the candidates, and of the notion that having a third candidate in the race will pull votes away from Stedman.

&uot;I’m not even worrying about that,&uot; Stedman said. &uot;I’m running to do what is best for Natchez.&uot;

Meanwhile, in Glenwood subdivision, Branyan hiked from house to house, an armload of campaign signs in tow, a campaign van covered in signs

He had just left a house where an older woman told him she had already voted for him absentee. &uot;One down,&uot; Branyan said with a smile.

A couple of houses down, a resident told Branyan he didn’t think the candidate had a prayer of winning at first &045; but he’s since changed his mind.

&uot;I think you’re coming close to pulling a rabbit out of a hat,&uot; he said, adding that he believes he’ll vote for Branyan.

He can’t put a campaign sign in his yard, though &045; it’s a small town, and he considers all three mayoral candidates friends.

As of Saturday, Branyan said he had gotten a good response from nearly every area in which he has campaigned door to door.

&uot;I’ve got their vote, so that’s a good thing,&uot; Branyan said as he moved on to the next house.

Meanwhile, across town, Phillip West supporters were holding a &uot;family fun day&uot; event on Martin Luther King Jr. Street across from the Old Brick House, West’s campaign headquarters.

By the middle of the afternoon, the crowds that came for hot dogs, cold drinks and, for the children, a space walk had boiled down to a steady stream of die-hard West supporters.

&uot;Get the mayor some water,&uot; one supporter said, getting laughs from the rest of the group.

Sitting under canopy tents in lawn chairs to beat the summer heat, the mood of West’s supporters &045; almost all wearing &uot;West for Mayor&uot; T-shirts or stickers &045; was relaxed and upbeat.

Volunteers have handled most of the door-to-door campaigning, leaving him free to handle such things as advertising, West said.

Still, West planned to visit the Duncan Park tennis tournament and a gospel singing held in, of all places, the outlying community of Doloroso.

&uot;It’s out in the county, that’s true,&uot; West said. &uot;But I bet they’ll be a lot of people from Natchez there.&uot;