Our choices for Natchez aldermen

Published 7:12 pm Thursday, May 28, 2020

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Natchez voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to choose aldermen for city wards 1, 4 and 6.

Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, Ward 3 Alderman Sarah Carter-Smith and Ward 5 Alderman Benjamin Davis face no opposition in Tuesday’s primary election or in the general election on July 14.

Have you made up your mind who you will vote for in Tuesday’s Natchez municipal primary election?

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The Democrat’s editorial board met earlier this week with candidates for aldermen in wards 1, 4 and 6. Here are our candidate endorsements for those positions.

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Ward 1 — Incumbent Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis faces challenger Valencia Hall.

The Democrat endorses Valencia Hall for ward 1 alderman.

Hall has a background in psychiatric nursing and has served on the board of trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. She was raised in Natchez and emphasized she is concerned about parts of the city that look like a blighted, “third-world zone.”

Hall said she wants to be a part of a team, saying she does not see any teamwork in the process of governing the City of Natchez among the current board of aldermen.

She said Natchez needs unity, and said too much divisiveness is at play in the current board of aldermen.

“Not everything is a race issue. Some members of this board need to stop living as if it was 50 years ago,” Hall said.

Hall wants to see the completion of a recreation complex here, preferably in the “beanfield” location, where it was originally intended to be built, wants to develop a skilled workforce through vocational education offerings and wants to further economic development through strong support of Natchez Inc.

Valencia Hall deserves an opportunity to go to work for ward 1 and all of Natchez.

Ward 4 — Incumbent Felicia Bridgewater-Irving faces challengers Michael Calcote and Frederick Todd. The winner will face Republican Brenda Floyd in the general election July 14.

Felicia Bridgewater-Irving deserves a second term as alderman for ward 4.  Safety in her ward is a priority and she organized a number of Neighborhood Watch groups and helped develop a community garden in which young people grow vegetables that are distributed to the ward’s senior citizens.

Bridgewater-Irving said she is concerned about small businesses in Natchez and wants to help with economic development in the city, including enhancing Main Street.

She is also the chairwoman of the Minor Street Festival, which her family founded 30 years ago.

Bridgewater-Irving is doing good work in ward 4 and has earned an opportunity to continue it.

Ward 6 — Incumbent Dan Dillard faces challengers Queen Ella Wilson and Arrick Rice.

Dan Dillard, who is seeking his fourth term representing ward 6, has earned The Democrat’s endorsement.

Dillard has been a stalwart in his work to force the city clerk’s office to better manage its finances, and the city has more work to do in the area of managing its finances and record keeping.

Dillard’s role in urging proper financial management is more important than ever now, when the city’s tax revenues will be decreased due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He wants to see to completion a plan to develop an entertainment district along North Broadway and the bluff, and provide for it infrastructure needed, such as bathroom facilities, to make it a premier destination in Mississippi.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen needs the experience and leadership Dillard brings for the next, challenging four years.