Ward 5 runoff to be Tuesday

Published 12:01 am Saturday, May 17, 2008

NATCHEZ — Ward 5 alderman hopefuls Mark Fortenbery and Frances Thompson Bailey have been racing around from door to door the past two weeks preparing for a run-off.

The run-off for the Democratic nomination for Ward 5, will take place Tuesday.

Electronic voting machines in the May 6 primary gave Fortenbery 49.4 percent of the vote and Bailey 39.8 percent.

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Fortenbery nearly escaped a runoff, but absentee and affidavit ballots counted the next day assured Bailey a spot in Tuesday’s election.

The totals including paper ballots were, Fortenbery with 48.9 percent and Bailey with 40.1 percent of the vote.

Two weeks later, the duo is ready to try again.

Fortenbery said he started campaigning the day after the paper ballots were counted.

“I’ve been working hard and I haven’t slacked off a bit,” he said. “I have not skipped a beat.”

He said the kind of enthusiasm and dedication he has brought in his campaign is a reflection of the kind of job he would do as alderman.

“I’ve felt that’s the way I show the people my interest in the job and my ability to do the job.”

After campaigning hard for almost two months, Fortenbery said he is ready to know the outcome.

“I’m anxious,” he said. “But I’m still motivated and ready to do what it takes.”

Fortenbery’s running on a platform focused on building the city in a way that’s attractive to young adults.

Fortenbery said he was able to come back to Natchez as a young adult and make a life for himself and he wants to be able to give others the same opportunity.

He said this can be done through improving the public school system, but also improving other parts of the city such as infrastructure, police and fire protection and recreation.

Fortenbery said he still feels solid about the platform he initially laid out.

“I’m sticking with my guns and see how it works out,” he said.

Fortenbery said he wants voters to know that this race is very important to him.

“I want everybody to know that I’m still focused and I’ve got one thing on my mind and that’s to be alderman Ward 5,” he said.

Bailey said she’s been working hard on the campaign trail, as well.

“I’m knocking on every door and I’m trying not to leave any “I”s undotted or “T”s uncrossed,” she said.

Going door-to-door is the most crucial part of campaigning, she said.

“That’s your most important thing, to get that one-on-one contact,” she said.

While in her first round of campaigning, Bailey said she ran into a lot of potential constituents who had questions about infrastructure and education, but people are now more about supporting her.

“Now what I’m running into is they’re saying they hope I’ll be a good leader or that they know I’ll be a good leader,” she said. “The thing now is they just want a person that’s going to do the job.”

She said while it’s difficult work, she’s enjoying every minute of it.

“I’m still dedicated and I’m still looking forward to listening to and talking to anyone,” Bailey said.

Bailey’s platform centers on education, recreation and government consolidation.

“My platform has not changed, I am willing to work for the people and willing to do the best I can for the community,” she said.

“I’m ready to call myself alderman,” she said.

Both Fortenbery and Bailey are somewhat worried about voter turnout since it is an election run-off.

“I just hope that everyone gets out to vote, that ward is very crucial,” Fortenbery said. “Hopefully everybody gets back out to vote.”

Bailey said she couldn’t gauge at the time what voter turnout is going to be like but naturally she hopes it will be good.

City Clerk Donnie Holloway said 40 absentee ballots have been cast in the Ward 5 run-off, compared to the 30 that were cast in the Ward 5 first primary.

Absentee voting will end at noon today at city hall.

The run-off will take place at the National Guard Armory.

The winner of Tuesday’s race will face Republican Charles Zuccaro on June 3.