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Be prepared to vote in Natchez elections Tuesday

Natchez residents will go to the polls next Tuesday to select Democratic Party nominees for mayor and alderman positions in wards 1, 4 and 6.

Tuesday’s winners in the ward 1 and ward 4 races will be on the July 14 general election ballots facing independent or Republican challengers for a chance to represent the city of Natchez for the next four years.

Ward 6, which has no independent or Republican challengers, will be decided in Tuesday’s primary.

Aldermen in three Natchez wards did not garner any opponents: Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Carter-Smith and Ward 5 Alderman Ben Davis, all Democrats, are running unopposed and by default will serve another term on the board.

Also, incumbent Municipal Court Judge Lisa Jordan Dale did not garner any opposition so she also will serve another term.

In the contested races, incumbent Democrat Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis faces a challenge from Democrat Valencia Hall. The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face independent candidate Jamar White in the July 14 general election.

Incumbent Democrat Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Irving faces a challenge from fellow Democrats Michael Calcote and Fredrick Todd. The winner of that race Tuesday will face the city’s lone Republican candidate Brenda Floyd in the July 14 general election.

Incumbent Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard faces challenges from fellow Democrats Arrick Rice and Queen Ella Wilson and that race will be decided in Tuesday’s Democratic Party primary.

Perhaps the highlight of all the Natchez races is the race for Natchez Mayor.

Two Democrats — Tony Fields and Dan Gibson — are vying for the party’s nomination and the winner of Tuesday’s primary will face independent candidates Richard Branyan and Phillip West in the July 14 general election.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with most of the candidates and I believe they are all dedicated and capable individuals. Despite who wins in any of the races, I believe we will be in good hands.

I am also happy with the incumbents who did not garner any opposition, which I believe is a testament to their past performances and the satisfaction their constituents have with the way they are doing their jobs.

Needless to say, this campaign has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and city officials pushed the dates back twice. The big day is finally dawning, however.

If you live in a ward that has a contested race, please study up on the candidates and make an informed decision at the polls on Tuesday.

Also, study up on the candidates for mayor and make a wise decision there, too.

Above all, be prepared when you go to the polls Tuesday to operate under COVID-19 guidelines requiring facial masks and social distancing. Have your picture identification ready to show at the sign-in table and use the disposable pens provided and Popsicle sticks for touchscreen voting.

Be prepared to vote smart and to vote safely on Tuesday and may the best candidates win.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.