Municipal elections about to heat up in Natchez

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, December 3, 2019

It’s that time of year again.

No, not Christmas . . . well, it is Christmastime, but I’m not referring to that.

I’m referring to election time.

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Now that state and county elections are behind us, our attention turns to the 2020 elections.

I’ll leave the pontificating on the presidential and other national races to others for now, but I’m more interested now in the more-important-to-us municipal elections.

During Friday night’s Natchez Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Mayor Darryl Grennell said this year would be his last Christmas tree lighting ceremony as mayor of Natchez.

Just to be sure, Natchez Democrat reporter Sabrina Robertson called Grennell after the ceremony, and he confirmed he would not be seeking re-election to the post he has held since 2016.

For the past several weeks, however, we have been seeing vague references to a potential run for mayor by local bed and breakfast owner, businessman and lobbyist Dan Gibson.

Since those vague posts started popping up several weeks ago, I have asked a few people if they were planning a run for mayor.

The first person I asked was Grennell, who declined to answer at the time, saying he thought it was too early to make an announcement.

The second person I asked was Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, who said she is not planning to run for mayor but instead will seek re-election to her Ward 1 position.

Following Grennell’s announcement Friday, I reached out to Gibson on Monday.

“I have decided to run,” Gibson said. “I’ve been bouncing this back and forth for months. I’m encouraged that so many people have asked me to run, so I’ve decided to run.”

Gibson, who is a business lobbyist in Jackson and a former mayor of Crystal Springs, said that on average two to three people per day for the past two or three months have been asking him to run for mayor.

“It’s been a lot of people,” Gibson said. “I’m encouraged for the future of Natchez that so many people are concerned about the city.”

Gibson said he has visited with Mayor Grennell and past mayor Butch Brown to tell them of his interest in seeking the mayor’s seat.

Gibson said he was surprised to learn Friday night that Grennell would not be seeking reelection.

“I wish him the best and appreciate what he has done for Natchez,” Gibson said. “He is a wonderful man, and I think the world of Darryl. He has been a wonderful public servant all these many years, not just as mayor (Grennell also served many years on the Adams County Board of Supervisors).”

Gibson said he plans to make an official announcement soon and he wants people to know he will run as a Democrat, despite having been a Republican in the past.

“Natchez is a Democratic town and I want to represent all of Natchez,” Gibson said.

Late Monday afternoon, Butch Brown told Robertson he is considering a run for mayor if his health holds up.

Otherwise, Gibson is the only person we have been able to confirm plans to run for Mayor of Natchez, but I’m sure that will change soon enough.

Qualifying for municipal elections opens Jan. 2, 2020, at City Hall and ends Feb. 7, 2020.

The first party primary will be April 7, 2020, and a runoff if necessary will be April 28. The general election will be June 2.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or