Will West run again?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; This time two years ago campaign signs were up, mayoral forums were ongoing and the name Phillip West was on a lot of minds.

Now in the political off-season, it&8217;s neither too early nor too late for West to be thinking about 2008, he said.

The decision to run again &8212; or not too &8212; hasn&8217;t been made, West said; the next two years that will determine that.

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Originally West hoped so many of his goals would be completed in the first term that he would not have to run again, he said.

But West said if his goals have not been accomplished nine months to a year before the next city elections in May 2008, he would certainly consider running for a second term as mayor.

He said he doesn&8217;t know exactly which goals will make or break the decision, but time will tell.

&8220;I&8217;ll know it when I see it,&8221; West said.

Projects West has said he would like to accomplish during this term &8212; that the newly hired community development director may work on &8212; range from establishing a performing arts center with Alcorn State University to forming a nonprofit to help the private sector access grant funds.

But West isn&8217;t the only Natchez politician weighing the options for 2008.

Alderman Jake Middleton, serving his fourth term, has toyed with the idea of being mayor.

&8220;I think 16 years as alderman qualifies me&8221; as a viable mayoral candidate, Middleton said. &8220;Also, my business (Big M Supply) has been successful, and I&8217;ve always believed you have to run government like a business.&8221;

But if he doesn&8217;t run for mayor, Middleton said he would certainly run for alderman.

&8220;When it gets to where it&8217;s not fun and you can&8217;t give 100 percent to the people of Natchez, &8230; then you should consider getting out. But I&8217;m not to that point yet,&8221; Middleton said. &8220;I just want to see Natchez prosper. If you&8217;re (a city official) for any other reason, &8230; you&8217;re up there for the wrong reason.&8221;

Middleton said public service also seems to be in his family&8217;s blood. His father, Jake Sr., was in office for about 14 years as alderman.

Middleton&8217;s mother, Peggy, served the remainder of her husband&8217;s term when he died. And Middleton&8217;s brother Tom also served as alderman for one term.

Of other city and county officials who could be reached this week, Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said she will evaluate the status of projects she&8217;s been pushing for Ward 1 closer to election time to see whether she needs to run again.

Those projects include Marblestone subdivision infrastructure improvements and the north Natchez drainage project, as well as drainage improvements along Zoa and surrounding streets.

Ward 4 Alderman Theodore &8220;Bubber&8221; West, who has been in office 17 1/2 years, said that with good health, he&8217;ll run again in 2008.

Ward 3 Alderman Bob Pollard said he&8217;ll definitely run again in 2008, while Ward 2 Alderman James &8220;Rickey&8221; Gray said he&8217;ll have to pray about the issue before committing one way or the other.

Sammy Cauthen, Adams County&8217;s District 1 supervisor for 28 years, said he&8217;ll definitely run again in November 2007, when the next county elections will be held.

So will supervisors Henry Watts of District 2 and S.F. &8220;Spanky&8221; Felter of District 5, both first-terms on the board.

&8220;It will take a second term to undo a 20-year mindset of tax and spend&8221; on the Board of Supervisors, Watts said.

Thomas &8220;Boo&8221; Campbell of District 3 said it&8217;s too early to speculate on the next election year for him.