Candidates prepare run for municipal elections

Published 11:20 pm Saturday, January 12, 2008

NATCHEZ — In an election year, rumors start to fly. Who is running, who isn’t and who is considering it are questions many people want answered, and a few Natchezians have come forward to verify those rumors, to deny them or to take a little more time to consider.


Alderman Jake Middleton has been advertising his bid for mayor since October, and he said he is running for sure.

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“It’s always just been something that I felt I wanted to do from the first day I was elected alderman,” Middleton said. “Timing is very important in my decision. I feel like I have reached the point in the point in my life where I can take on the running of the city government of Natchez.”

Current Mayor Phillip West said he decided several months ago he would run for re-election, but that he would not likely qualify until February.

West’s focus for re-election includes a new recreation complex development, the Forks of the Road site and revitalizing bad neighborhoods, he said.

Former State Rep. Andrew Ketchings said he is considering a run for mayor.

“I am only just now considering it,” he said.

Whoever decides to run will have many tough decisions ahead of them, Ketchings said.

But former City Attorney Walter Brown said he would not be running for mayor or another office in this election.

“I have had a large number of people ask me to consider it, since the last election, and I told them I would consider it,” Brown said. “But since I retired from the city, between my business and law practice, I’m not in a position to (run).”


Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said she has already qualified for the election, registering Wednesday.

She has always wanted to run for re-election, Arceneaux-Mathis said, and she wants to make sure she completes the drainage projects that she started in her first term.

Natchezian Jim Sanders, who has challenged Arceneaux-Mathis in the past, said he is “strongly considering” running against her again, and he is “teetering” on the edge of a decision.

People who want him to run have approached him, Sanders said, and support is his major determining factor.

“If elected, I’ll take an analytical look at all issues presented to the board,” he said.

Alderman James “Ricky” Gray said he has decided to run again after a period of prayer.

“I know for a fact that my job is not finished,” Gray said. “I have a vision of how I want to see Ward 2 look, and I am going to run until I finish. I feel like this community needs to realize in order for all the people to prosper in this community, we need to start from the bottom and build up.”

Likewise, Alderman Bob Pollard said he qualified to run on the first possible day.

Pollard said he enjoys serving the city and wants to make sure that he is on board when the new casinos open in Natchez. He also said the city’s infrastructure needs attention, specifically the streets.

Alderman Theodore “Bubber” West said he plans to run for re-election, but this will be his last term.

“We have gotten a lot of things accomplished and a lot of things planned now,” he said. “In the next four years we plan to get the recreation complex tackled and some infrastructure improvements planned.”

Frazier Primary School assistant principal Tony Fields III said he has plans to run for the Ward 4 seat occupied by West.

Fields said he sees it as chance to help the city, and if elected he would concentrate on “out of the box thinking” to repair the school system. He said his deep love for Natchez would help him to fulfill his duties as alderman.

Alderman David Massey said, after 20 years on the board, he is not planning to run again.

Massey said his office was “the best thing I have ever done,” and the next candidate needs to be a young man with a strong love for the city, dedicated to bringing long-term business to Natchez.

“No, but maybe”

Board of supervisors member Darryl Grennell, who has in the past served several years as president of the board, would not say if he was running for anything.

“I have not decided yet,” Grennell said.

Natchezian Brad Fondren said he will decide whether or not to run in the next 10 days. Fondren said he needs to make sure he can balance his business and the duties of the board.

He would focus on growing the economy and getting the city and county board to work together, Fondren said.

Natchez Fire Chief Paul Johnson said he has made no decision at all when it comes to running, and if he does, family will influence his choice.

“I’m focusing on my duties as a fire chief,” he said.

Likewise, Natchezian Joe Eidt would not commit to running but would not rule it out, either.

“Never say never,” Eidt said.

Former Mayor Larry L. “Butch” Brown said he would not make a bid for mayor.

Not running

A few folks whose names have been making the “might run” circuit said they will not run.

They include Larry Brown Jr., businesswoman Sue Stedman and NAPAC museum director Darrell White.