Run-off next for some candidates

Published 12:35 am Wednesday, May 7, 2008

NATCHEZ — The campaigning season is not over yet, with a run-off still to come, though it won’t be decided who is in the run off until Thursday.

While the unofficial report shows several shoe-ins —James “Ricky” Gray with 79.6 in Ward 2, Ernest “Tony” Fields in Ward 4 and Daniel “Dan” Dillard in Ward 6 — a run-off will be necessary to decide other wards.

Electronic votes were tallied Tuesday night, but what’s left are the affidavit and absentee ballots, which are paper and will need to be hand counted beginning this morning.

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Election Commission Chairman Larry Gardner said the ballot counters will be meeting at 9 a.m. today to begin certifying the ballots.

The absentee ballots could make a difference in Ward 1, 5 and the mayor’s race.

Mayoral hopeful Jake Middleton won with 52.5 percent of the vote according to the unofficial results, Phillip West has 47.5 percent.

Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis received 50.9 percent of the vote, which is enough for a win, but the uncounted ballots could lead to a run off.

“She could actually slip into a run off,” Gardner said. “That’s too close to call.”

If there is a run off in Ward 1, Mathis will face Jim Sanders who received 25.3 percent of the vote.

In Ward 5, Mark Fortenbery leads with 49.4 percent of the vote while Frances Thompson Bailey trails behind with 39.8 percent.

Though the unofficial results show that in this ward, a run off will be necessary, the ballots yet to be counted could determine otherwise.

“(Fortenbery) is not that many ballots away from breaking that 50 percent mark,” Gardner said. “If he picks up a few more ballots he could actually clear the thing.”

Gardner said he believes it will take all of today to certify the ballots and possibly all of Thursday.

“I don’t think there’s any way we’ll get it all done (today,)” he said.

Holloway said as soon as those ballots are counted, the run offs will be determined and the city can begin printing ballots.

Once the ballots are printed, absentee voting will begin immediately.

The run off will take place May 20.