Middleton wins by large margin

Published 7:52 pm Tuesday, June 3, 2008

NATCHEZ — With almost twice as many votes as his competitor, Jake Middleton was elected mayor of Natchez Tuesday night.

Middleton received 2,246 votes, equaling 63.8 percent of the vote versus Chick Graning’s 1,275 votes or 36.2 percent.

Both candidates said they felt it was a good race.

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“It was a very hard fought race and professional on both candidates,” Middleton said. “We both worked hard.”

Graning said Middleton ran a good hard race and he has no hard feelings toward the mayor-elect.

“I congratulate him, I wish him the very best,” Graning said. “He and I had a good relationship before, and he and I still have a great relationship.”

Middleton said he knows he can count on Graning to help him.

“I think he will be there if I need him to step up to the plate,” Middleton said. “He supports basically the same things I do.”

Graning said he would not change anything about his campaign and he is thankful to all his supporters.

“We left it all on the table, no stone unturned,” he said.

As for what’s next, he’s going to enjoy his retirement.

“I’m going to take my lovely wife, I’m going to take my lovely life and continue my retirement, be with my friends and walk on down my path,” Graning said.

Middleton said he looks forward to leading Natchez in a new direction.

“Good things are coming,” Middleton said surrounded by friends and family at Country Inn and Suites Tuesday night.

Middleton, a 16-year veteran of the board of aldermen, has pledged to do many things for the city during his mayoral term.

These include consolidating city and county law enforcement offices, improving infrastructure, building a recreation complex and partnering with Corrections Corporation of America to clean up the main entryways to Natchez.

“I’ve got some people I’m already talking to concerning things on my platform,” he said.

He said it’s going to take teamwork to accomplish those things, but he believes it can work.

“No one person can make it happen by himself, it’s a team effort,” he said. “When it happens, we can all pat each other on the back and say job well done.”

Serving with Middleton as aldermen will be in Ward 1, Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, Ward 2, James “Ricky” Gray, Ward 3 recently re-elected Bob Pollard, Ward 4 Ernest “Tony” Fields, Ward 5 recently elected Mark Fortenbery and in Ward 6 Dan Dillard.

Middleton said he’s looking forward to working with his board.

“I’ve already told every one of them that I’m looking forward to working with them,” he said.

In the first primary Middleton defeated incumbent Mayor Phillip West by 206 votes with a total percentage of 51.88 percent to West’s 47.95 percent.