Arceneaux-Mathis, Gray win; Dillard, Smith advance

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NATCHEZ — Voters in Natchez showed out in favor of every incumbent on the ballot in Tuesday’s primaries, and newcomer Sarah Carter Smith edged out her primary opponent in Ward 3.

Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, James “Rickey” Gray and Dan Dillard all won the Democratic primary races in Wards 1, 2 and 6, respectively.

Voters re-elected Arceneaux-Mathis and Gray for another four years Tuesday.

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Smith will face Incumbent Republican Bob Pollard and Dillard will face Independent Forrest Foster in the general election on June 5.

Ward 1

Arceneaux-Mathis defeated challenger Kathy Traina with 432 votes, or 60.8 percent, to Traina’s 39.2 percent, or 278 votes.

As many years as she’s been re-elected, Arceneaux-Mathis said still knew better than not to worry as she watched results come in Tuesday.

“I ran scared and hard,” Arceneaux-Mathis said, “like I have in every race I have an opponent.”

Arceneaux-Mathis said on the campaign trail she learned more about the needs of Ward 1.

She said in her next term, she wants to establish a Neighborhood Watch for the residents of Government Fleet Road.

Arceneaux-Mathis said too many properties in that area sit neglected, and the situation has become dangerous.

“It’s just wrong,” she said.

She also said she wants to facilitate the hiring of a manger at Susie B. West Apartments and work to clean up the Lewis Drive area.

As for her reaction to the win, Arceneaux-Mathis said she is still pumped up, even with the conclusion of the race.

“I am exuberant,” she said. “I am celebrating that it all worked out…I worked hard for four years to represent the people and this is their way of paying me back by gong out and voting for me.”

Traina said she had good support during the campaign and wanted to thank those who voted for her.

“I learned a lot and had a great experience,” Traina said.

“I think we ran a very good campaign and had a very good message,” Traina said. “I’ll definitely think about being there again in four years.”

Ward 2

Gray defeated challenger Billie Joe Frazier with 69.9 percent, or 515 votes to Frazier’s 30 percent, or 221 votes.

Gray said he didn’t bother making predictions about what would happen at the polls.

“I just put my trust in the Lord and whatever his will was, it was going to be fine with me,” Gray said.

Gray said he’s glad for the opportunity to see the Daisy Street project through during his next term. And now that he’s been elected again to a fourth term, his next big focus for Ward 2 will be improvements on West Stiers Lane.

“I’m just overwhelmed that the citizens of Ward 2 had enough faith in me to let me continue to represent them, and (my ward) has some really special people,” Gray said.

Gray said he wanted to thank his family, friends and citizens for their support.

“I’ll work as hard as I can to make them proud of me,” Gray said.

Frazier said he was glad he and Gray ran good, clean races, and he appreciated the help of all those who supported him.

“It was a good race; the best man won,” Frazier said.

“I love Natchez, and I support anyone who is going to support Natchez.”

Frazier said he hasn’t discounted running again.

“And who knows what I’ll do in the future, we’ll have to wait and see what the future is going to bring.”

Ward 3

Smith defeated Gwen Ball with 63.3 percent, or 640 votes, to Ball’s 36.7 percent, or 371 votes.

Smith said she might take a few days off the campaign trail, but she looks forward to getting back out there again until the general election.

Following her first race for public office, Smith said she has enjoyed campaigning and appreciated the high voter turnout in Ward 3.

Voter turnout in Ward 3 was 54.1 percent, the highest of all the wards.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to be taking Natchez forward,” Smith said.

Ward 6

Dillard defeated challenger Dianne Brown with 52.9 percent, or 399 votes, to Brown’s 46.9 percent, or 354 votes.

There were 30 uncounted absentee votes and nine affidavit votes in Ward 6, but that total was less than the 45 votes by which Dillard won.

Dillard said he was relieved to win a close race against a strong opponent in Brown, who he said had an organized, well-funded campaign.

“This is a quality win if it was a sporting event,” Dillard said. “(Brown) was a very worthy opponent.”

Dillard said he will take the opportunity while on the campaign trail for the general election to get his message out, and he believes he can be re-elected June 5 by a larger margin than Tuesday’s primary.

“Forty-five votes is not much, but it’s enough,” Dillard said. “And I hope to have the opportunity to convince those voters (who voted for Brown) that I am the best man for the job.”

Ward 4 Alderman Ernest “Tony” Fields and Ward 5 Alderman Mark Fortenbery ran unopposed.