Gibson first mayor to run unopposed in more than 100 years

Published 3:16 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2024

NATCHEZ — Not since Mayor William G. Benbrook in 1922 has a Natchez mayor run for office unopposed.

That’s the situation for Natchez Mayor Dan M. Gibson, who seeks his second term in office.

The filing deadline for qualifying in the 2024 municipal elections was Friday at 5 p.m. No one filed to oppose Gibson.

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The last mayor to run without opposition was William G. Benbrook in 1922, said Carter Burns, executive director of the Historic Natchez Foundation.

“That’s what we have been able to find,” Burns said.

Benbrook was elected to 17 two-year terms as Natchez mayor. Serving from 1889 until his death in 1922, he died during his 33rd year in office. Benbrook was the city’s 29th mayor and its longest serving.

Gibson is the city’s 44th mayor. In addition, no mayor has been re-elected to a second term since the late Butch Brown in 1996.

“Interestingly, that’s the year I was elected as mayor of Crystal Springs,” Gibson said. He also ran unopposed for his second term there.

“I’m speechless. It’s really hard for me to put into words just what I feel. I love what I do. I love Natchez. I love being mayor of Natchez and the fact that I get to do this for another four years is wonderful news on its own for me and Marla and so many others who have been there with me,” Gibson said. “It’s truly humbling to find out this hasn’t happened in such a long time.

“So many people have supported me and encouraged me. I don’t ever want to let them down. This news has motivated me to work harder than ever to keep our Natchez Renewal going,” he said.

Burns and Mimi Miller of the Historic Natchez Foundation, who have researched Natchez mayors, told Gibson Benbrook was an extremely popular mayor who operated from a position of positivity and went out of his way to work with everyone to move the city forward.

“It’s interesting how 100 years later, those words still apply,” he said. “At the end of the day, whatever we do, we must make sure it’s the best for Natchez and we can continue to build unity. The more we work together, the better an example we can be of how this should be for our state and communities across our country.

“I would like for the next four years to be evidence of what can happen when we get away from the politics of ‘me’ and instead go about the politics of ‘we,’ ” Gibson said.

Three of the six members of the Natchez Board of Aldermen will face opposition in the April 2 municipal primary election.

Larry Hooper, also a Democrat, will challenge Ward 1 Alderwoman Valencia Hall, also a Democrat.

Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Bridgewater-Irving is being opposed by two candidates, both Democrats like Bridgewater-Irving — Adrian Fulton and Michael Calcote.

Calcote ran against Bridgewater-Irving in the 2020 election and lost by 51 votes.

Ward 5 Alderman Ben Davis faces fellow Democrat Jamar White on April 2. The winner of the primary election will face independent Tarsha Ambeau in the June 4 municipal general election.

Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith and Ward 6 Alderman Curtis Moroney do not face an opposing candidate and will serve new, four-year terms beginning this summer.