Smith wins Ward 3, Dillard re-elected in Ward 6

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, June 6, 2012

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Dan Dillard, right, talks to Courtney Aldridge Tuesday night at Larry “Butch” Brown’s election results party at the Natchez Community Center.

NATCHEZ — Two aldermen candidates cheered in their victories with friends, family and food Tuesday night. Two others accepted their losses with zero regrets but declared they were done with politics for good.

Political newcomer Democrat Sarah Carter Smith defeated eight-year incumbent Republican Bob Pollard in the race for Ward 3 with 74 percent of the vote, according to unofficial tallies.

Click here for more photos from Tuesday’s election.

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Smith will be the only fresh face on the Natchez Board of Aldermen when the new term starts July 2.

Four-year incumbent Democrat Dan Dillard defeated challenger independent Forrest Foster in the Ward 6 race with 58.4 percent of the vote.

Ward 3

“I’m still floored and humbled and excited,” Smith said. “I wasn’t expecting the numbers to be what they were.”

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Sarah Carter Smith hugs Laurie Pere during Carter Smith’s election results party Tuesday night at her home.

Smith earned a margin of 724 votes to Pollard’s 255, or 26 percent.

“I’m not offended,” Pollard said of the results. “I worked hard and did everything I knew possible for this election, and it didn’t work out; so I’m moving on.”

Pollard said when he first met Smith after they both qualified for the same race he compared the election to a job application process.

“(I) told her, ‘Whatever the outcome, we can still be friends,’” Pollard said.

Pollard said he would stick to his word and has nothing negative to say about Smith.

Pollard said he wanted to thank his supporters and especially his wife, who knocked on doors with him and supported him 100 percent.

He also said Tuesday would be his last race.

“No more politics; I’m out,” said Pollard, who admitted a level of relief that he doesn’t plan to run for office again.

Smith rung in the win at her Dana Road house surrounded by supporters and her father’s shish kabobs.

“I’m excited about the opportunity and things I can do to change the perception to people of our board,” Smith said.

When community members approached Smith a few years ago and encouraged her to run for office, she said she wasn’t sure about running.

Still on the fence throughout qualifying season, she decided to go for it the last morning before the deadline. And now she’s thrilled voters had enough confidence to give her a chance to make a difference, she said.

Smith said with or without a wide margin, she feels a large responsibility to the community and her voters.

She said like in any business decision, she plans to apply the common-sense approach she campaigned about to city government.

“(We, as a board) have to look at (decisions) not with a personal agenda but (thinking) what’s best for the people in our town,” Smith said.

Looking at both sides of an issue is a big part of working together and making compromises, she said.

Smith also recalled Pollard’s message to her comparing the election to a fair, job application process and said she wanted to thank him for running a clean race.

“(Pollard) is a nice guy, and I appreciate that (we) went at this (race) doing it the right way,” Smith said.

Ward 6

Dillard earned 407 votes to Foster’s 290 votes, or 41.55 percent.

“I am truly relieved and blessed,” Dillard said of his win.

“I’ve got to tell the truth — I was saying a lot of prayers there at the end.”

Dillard watched results at his in-laws’ house on Ratcliff Place after a long day of trying to urge voters to their precincts.

“I’ve got to admit I’m still wearing my sweaty ‘Vote for Dan’ shirt,” Dillard said.

Dillard said with four more years to go he looks forward to following through with some projects that are currently in the works, which he has personally championed. Examples of his pet projects include the IT director position, weaning the city off of its former habit of borrowing money and transparency.

With the news that Larry L. “Butch” Brown was elected mayor Tuesday night with a 73.26 margin against challenger Bill Furlow, Dillard said he looks forward to working with Brown and is confident Brown’s strong leadership style will change the tone of the board meetings.

Dillard said he wants to continue to push for openness in government the next term and wants to become more sensitive to the public’s needs and issues.

“Covering live and dynamic discussions, sometimes it doesn’t come out right,” Dillard said. “But the point is (the public) is a part of the process. And I really believe the more open it is the better it is for everybody,” Dillard said.

Dillard said he ran against Foster in the past and found that this go-around his opponent was much more skilled strategically.

“My opponent was much more organized this time. He was a very worthy opponent,” Dillard said.

Foster said he was a little surprised with the results, but win or lose, he is fine with the voice of the people.

Foster said he has no regrets.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Foster said of the race. “I met a lot of people, shook a lot of hands and saw a lot of smiling faces.”

Foster said he is still certain he is the best candidate for the position, but he accepts the results.

“The Lord works in strange ways we just don’t understand,” Foster said. “It may have been that (winning) this was too much, so I’m perfectly OK with it.”

Foster said he will be 63 in four years with retirement on the horizon and has no plans to run for a political office again.

“I appreciate all the support (of those) that went out and voted and most of all my family for all the support they gave me in last few weeks,” Foster said.

“I don’t like to get beat at anything that I do, but you can’t win everything that you do. And the experience is still great.”

As for Pollard, he said he is grateful to have made a number of new contacts during his eight years in office and wished the new board the board the best of luck.