Former state senator announces run for West’s seat

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Former state Sen. Robert Johnson announced Tuesday he plans to qualify to run for the state House of Representatives post soon to be vacated by Mayor-elect Phillip West.

Johnson, a Democrat, served District 38 &045; parts of Adams, Amite, Pike, Wilkinson and Walthall counties &045; for three terms in the state Senate before being defeated by Kelvin Johnson last fall.

&uot;I believe there’s a need for experience and aggressive leadership (in the now-vacant District 94), and I have demonstrated both of those,&uot; Johnson said.

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West was elected Natchez’s mayor earlier this month, winning by 100 votes over Republican Alderwoman Sue Stedman, and to take office he must resign from his District 94 house seat. That district includes part of Adams, Jefferson and Franklin counties.

West said he plans to resign from that seat today in order to be sworn in as mayor in a Thursday evening ceremony.

After the letter is submitted, the Governor’s Office must declare West’s seat vacant in order for a special election date to be set, according to personnel with Gov. Haley Barbour’s office.

Johnson said the District 94 was particularly attractive to him because it centers more on Natchez, his hometown, than his more expansive District 38 Senate seat did.

&uot;All I want to offer Natchez is what Natchez has given to me,&uot; which included a superior education, Johnson said. He also said many supporters persuaded him to run for West’s seat.

Johnson said the issues he would like to address if elected to the House of Representatives include ways to use the momentum the state gained from wooing Canton’s Nissan plant to attract new industries to the Natchez area.