Fields defeats long-time incumbent

Published 12:37 am Wednesday, May 7, 2008

NATCHEZ — Youth ousted experience Tuesday night in the Ward 4 aldermen race, as Ernest “Tony” Fields defeated long-time incumbent Theodore “Bubber” West.

Fields earned 64.5 percent of the vote to upset the 17-and-a-half-year veteran.

“I am just really humbled and overwhelmed right now,” Fields said. “I definitely have some big shoes to fill and I have a huge learning curve to overcome, but I am up for the challenge. My first priority is to learn and study, just to really get in there and get my feet wet.”

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West said he had no regrets and he looks forward to serving Natchez in any way he can.

“Some of the things I have accomplished will have a mark on Natchez for a long, long time, and I am proud of that,” West said.

Fields is young and smart, so he will do well, West said.

“(Fields) will have to take it slow and learn the ropes like I did, and he is going to have to digest where we are and where we were headed and see if that is the same direction he thinks he might want to be,” West said.

Fields received a total of 429 votes, West took 190 and Donnell Newsome received 46 votes.

Ward 1

With 50.9 percent of the vote, incumbent Alderman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis is the unofficial winner of the election, but if enough of the absentee, affidavit or curbside ballots — there are 86 total — go to challenger Jim Sanders, the race could go to a run-off.

“We are very happy with the outcome of the election,” Arceneaux-Mathis said Tuesday night. “We know we are going to have to go down tomorrow and get the election finalized, but I have been told the absentee ballots tend to reflect the trend of the Election Day voting.”

Meanwhile, Sanders said he would be waiting at the courthouse today to find out the official outcome of the election.

“Whatever is to be is to be,” Sanders said. “I hope I am in a runoff, but if not I wish everybody well.”

Arceneaux-Mathis received 362 votes, Sanders received 180, challenger Paul K. Johnson received 130 and Sonya Anderson-Mars received 39.

Ward 2

Incumbent James “Ricky” Gray was re-elected by the 79.6 percent of the voters in Ward 2.

“I feel that the people of Ward 2 have spoken, and I am glad they have enough faith to reelect me to this position,” Gray said. “I want to thank every each and every one of them for that.”

Gray received a total of 612 votes, while challenger Johnny Franklin received 128.

Another candidate, Larry Hooper, dropped out of the race too late to have his name removed from the ballot, and received 29 votes.

Ward 3

In Ward 3, Gwen Ball was the only candidate on the ticket.

Ball received 748 votes, and will face incumbent Republican Bob Pollard in the general election.

Ward 5

With 49.5 percent of the vote, Mark Fortenbery will be facing Frances Thompson Bailey, who received 39.8 percent of the vote, in a run-off.

Bailey said her campaign knocked on doors, made the rounds of some neighborhoods three times and passed out leaflets.

“I didn’t expect the run-off to be as close as it was,” Bailey said. “It just makes me realize I have got to get out there and push a little harder.”

Meanwhile, Fortenbery said — while it has been a clean campaign — it was a big relief to make it to the run-off, and that he will continue to campaign in the same way he has been.

“Hard work and knocking on doors, I believe that pays off,” he said. “I think the people know I am dedicated and am in this for the long haul.”

All totaled, Fortenbery received 385 votes, whereas Bailey received 310. Candidate Tim Sessions received 84 votes.

Whichever candidate wins the run-off will face Republican Charles Zucarro in the general election.

Ward 6

With no incumbent candidate, Ward 6 was bound to elect a new alderman, and with 61.1 percent of the vote it was Daniel “Dan” Dillard.

Dillard thanked his opponent Forrest Foster for a clean campaign, and he said his first priority would be to get up to speed on the budget and how it affects the city.

One thing he wants to address is handicapped accessibility to voting stations, a problem he observed on Election Day, Dillard said.

“When someone can’t get into a voting precinct, that’s a real embarrassment,” Dillard said.

At the end of the day, though, Dillard said he is pleased with the results.

“Everybody is happy, but tomorrow we will all be sore,” he said.

Dillard received 490 votes, and Foster received 312 votes.

The second Democratic primary is May 20, and the general election is June 3.