Candidates sweat it out in heat

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, June 6, 2012

By Mollie Beth Wallace

NATCHEZ — While the citizens of Natchez headed to the polls for brief visits, the candidates on the ballot spent the day campaigning in the sweltering heat.

Bill Furlow, who lost his bid for mayor, said he worked right up until 7 p.m., when polls closed.

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“I’ve been rounding up people who have forgotten to vote or were just unenthusiastic for whatever reason,” he said.

With the help of two of his siblings and his wife, Furlow said he felt confident he covered all his bases.

“I slept good last night,” Furlow said. “I didn’t expect to, but by the time I got to bed, which was pretty late, I was tired.”

Furlow’s sister, Suellen Furlow of Laurel, said Bill was surprisingly relaxed when she arrived in Natchez Monday.

“He’s worked very hard for this,” Suellen said. “He’s really given up a year.

Making his last rounds through neighborhoods, Furlow said he could see a light at the end of the tunnel and would make sure he didn’t miss anyone on the streets.

Mayoral candidate Larry L. “Butch” Brown — who won the race — on the other hand, said he focused on logistical issues on Election Day.

“All morning I’ve been making sure all our helpers have plenty of water and making sure we have good coverage at every poll,” Brown said.

Brown said he made a couple of rounds to each poll but was more concerned with recording the numbers than campaigning.

“I dare say that any significant number of votes is changed on Election Day,” he said.

“I’ve been doing this for a while now. So I’m pretty relaxed.”

His oldest son, Larry Brown Jr., helped Butch collect numbers throughout the day, while Butch’s younger son, Sessions Brown, provided a taxi service to voters who needed a ride to the polls.

While the mayoral candidates were busy making rounds throughout Natchez, the candidates for two aldermen seats were camped out at the polls.

Alderman Bob Pollard, who lost his bid for Ward 3 re-election, said he was suffering in the sun near the Elks Lodge.

“I’m sitting on the side of the road burning up,” Pollard said Tuesday afternoon. “And I’ll be here until 7 p.m.”

Pollard spent the day sitting under a tent with his wife, Shanna, and his daughter, Colbey, 24.

Shanna said Bob has been calm throughout the campaign.

“I’m the one who worries,” she said.

Pollard said his wife has been a constant source of encouragement.

“She’s been the one to keep me going,” he said. “There’s even been a couple of times she had to push (me).”

Pollard said he and Shanna knocked on more than 800 doors during his campaign.

Across the road, Pollard’s challenger, Sarah Smith, visited with her parents, Carolyn Gwin and Webb Carter, and her daughter Emory Smith.

“I’m excited and just ready for 7 p.m. to come,” Sarah said. “I think at this point I’ve done as much as I could. Whatever’s meant to be will happen.”

Smith said after the polls closed she would head back to her house and host a party for her supporters.

“We will either celebrate or commiserate,” her mother joked.

Smith’s daughter said she was looking forward to hearing the results.

“We’re all excited,” Emory said. “We’ve been working hard.”

Smith said it was nice to finish her campaign with a day among the voters.

“It’s fun seeing everybody socializing,” she said.

Over in Duncan Park, the Ward 6 candidates retreated to the shade of the trees lining the road up to the Junior Auxiliary Canteen.

Alderman Dan Dillard, who won re-election in Ward 6, said he spent the entire day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in that very spot, waving to voters as they drove by.

Dillard stood in the shade with his family, all dressed in his campaign shirts, and tried to stay hydrated.

“It’s almost like tailgating,” Dillard said.

But Dillard wasn’t the only one braving the heat to encourage voters. His wife, Janet, his son Pate, and two of his daughters, Selah Havard and Maggie Compson, joined Dillard in the shade. The hardest worker though, Dillard said, was his grandson, John Clifton Compson, who is 3 years old.

“We have taught our children that it’s a privilege to vote,” Janet said.

“But it’s also a responsibility,” her son, Pate, added.

Pate said he understands the importance of helping his dad campaign.

“I enjoy it,” Pate said. “I’m proud of my dad and would do anything to keep his position.”

Janet said she would be glad to have her husband back from the campaign trail.

“He’s been a little grumpy,” she joked.

Dillard said he plans to catch up on yard work now that the election is over, but he said he is most excited to spend time with his family.

Down the road, Dillard’s opponent Forrest Foster said he spent the day out at Duncan Park as well, waving to voters.

“I’m just thanking everybody for voting,” Foster said. “Even if they didn’t vote for me.”

His wife, Debbie, and his three children, Ashley, 37, Taylor, 25, and Alex, 23, joined Foster.

Foster said he wasn’t nervous at all.

“I’m perfectly comfortable,” he said. “Not that I’ve won but that I’ve done everything I can to prepare.

“I’m a Christian, and I put my faith in the Lord. Whatever will be will be,” Foster said.

Foster said when the polls closed he would be on the Vidalia softball fields coaching Adams County Christian School’s softball team.

“Everyone of those girls is like my own child,” he said.

Foster said he enjoys being busy, but he looks forward to slowing down after the election.

“I plan on going home and relaxing,” he said.

After a long day in the heat, the candidates said they were relieved to be able to finally go home and rest.