Natchez votes today for Mayor, aldermen in Wards 1 and 4
NATCHEZ — Natchez voters are voting today in the municipal general election for Natchez Mayor and aldermen positions in Wards 1 and 4.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. Tuesday and on the ballots will be Democratic Party candidates for Natchez mayor and aldermen positions in wards 1 and 4.
“It looks like we are having a fairly busy day,” said Larry Gardner, chairman of the Natchez Municipal Election Commission. “We are getting a lot of people who did not vote in the first election calling because they are not sure where they vote. We’ve had a number of people who want to vote in the city election but they live out of the city limits.”
Gardner said the polls had been busy Tuesday morning.
“Hopefully, we are going to have a better voter turnout,” Gardner said. “That first primary was terrible. Hopefully, we will get more numbers out for this election.”
Gardner said has not heard of any problems at the polling places on Tuesday.
The commission, Gardner said, sent out a total of 447 absentee ballots to the polls that were cast in advance of Tuesday’s election, so races with candidates total votes falling within 447 votes of each other will likely not be decided Tuesday night.
“The polls are open,” Gardner said. “Get out and vote!”
CITY OF NATCHEZ VOTING LOCATIONS
Ward 1: City Council Chambers, 115 S. Pearl St.
Ward 2: Frazier School, 1445 George F. West Blvd.
Ward 3: Crosspoint Church, 285 Highland Blvd.
Ward 4: Christian Hope Baptist Church, 301 Lasalle St.
Ward 5: Adams County Safe Room, 323 Liberty Road
Ward 6: Duncan Park Canteen, 57 Duncan Park
Voting in COVID-19 pandemic
Voters will be required to follow COVID-19 guidelines including social distancing and Natchez Municipal Election Commission Chairman Larry Gardner said people should have photo identification ready to present to poll works who will be limiting entry to polling places to allow adequate space for social distancing.
Poll workers cannot require voters to wear masks but election commission members are asking people to wear a mask.
Disposable pens and voting styluses will be available for voters, and workers will be sanitizing surfaces regularly.
On the ballots
Candidates for Natchez Mayor are Democrat Dan Gibson and Independent Phillip West. Candidates for the Ward 1 Alderman seat are Democrat Valencia Hall and Independent Jamar White and candidates for Ward 4 are incumbent Democrat Felicia Bridgewater-Irving and Republican Challenger Brenda Floyd.
Races for wards 2, 3 and 5 were uncontested so incumbents, Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith and Ward 5 Alderman Benjamin Davis, will each serve another term by default, as will incumbent Municipal Judge Lisa Jordan Dale who garnered no opposition.
Incumbent Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard survived a primary challenge and will serve another term.
Democratic Party Mayoral nominee Dan Gibson will face independent candidate Phillip West to be Natchez’s next mayor.
Gibson, a former mayor of Crystal Springs and a former candidate for governor, is a lobbyist, a bed and breakfast owner, who has made Natchez his fulltime hometown since early 2016.
Gibson is running on a platform of bringing jobs to Natchez and said his previous experience as a mayor and a lobbyist make him the best candidate for the job.
“I’m excited about the future of Natchez,” Gibson said. “I believe that our message, which is a positive message, a message about renewal in our city, renewal of opportunity, is for everyone.”
West is a former Natchez mayor, Adams County supervisor and state representative. West said his experience and record of service to Natchez make him the best candidate for the mayoral job.
West said he was instrumental in bringing in additional tax revenue to Natchez through when he was mayor, and he also is an advocate for the school system.
“The record of a person is important,” West said. “Where you’ve come from, what you’ve experienced that is very important in a community, and I don’t have to learn a lot of that. I already have most of that.”
Ward 1 Alderman
Democratic candidates for Ward 1 Alderman are Valencia Hall and independent candidate Jamar White.
Hall is a Natchez native who is running on a platform of fiduciary responsibility, unity and accountability for the City of Natchez.
Hall said her vision for the future of Natchez includes balancing the books, consolidating the city’s banking accounts and conducting audits.
She also is in favor of unifying the city and the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen.
“It is time for a cohesive board of aldermen and mayor, and we can only do that if we have people willing to work together as a team,” Hall said. “The divisiveness needs to come to an end. Too many people in Natchez have felt isolated and as if they are not a part of Natchez and the same goes for Ward 1. I’ve heard their call for a change of leadership, and they’ve heard my call for unity.”
White recently completed course work for a bachelor’s degree in political science at Alcorn State University and served as student body president at Natchez Early College Academy. White is currently employed at AutoZone in Natchez and also served as the Copiah Lincoln Community College Natchez Campus student body president.
“What I bring to the table is not only community experience, but I also have business experience as I come from a small business family,” White said. “My dad owns several small businesses. I grew up watching him manage budgets and things of that sort.”
White said he would, among other things, work to reinvigorate community watch groups within Ward 1 if he is elected.
Ward 4 Alderman
Incumbent Democratic candidate Felicia Bridgewater-Irving will face Republican candidate Brenda Floyd for the Ward 4 alderman seat.
Irving is completing her first term as Ward 4 alderwoman.
“My reason for running again is I was given a vision by God to say that if change was going to come in my community, then I had to be part of the change,” Irving said, adding she had moved away from Natchez and when she returned she saw how things had changed over the 20 years she had been gone, including loss of jobs.
Since her return, Irving has helped create Neighborhood Watch committees in Ward 4 neighborhoods, established a community garden for youths in the ward and is chairwoman of the Minor Street Festival, which is a neighborhood street party organized by her family 30 years ago.
Irving said she supports the city’s efforts to install surveillance cameras through Project NOLA.
Floyd, a local business owner, declined to be interviewed for this story.