Decision 2024: Hall re-elected; Wards 4, 5 still in play

Published 9:19 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Ward 1 Alderman Valencia Hall has won re-election to her second term on the city’s Board of Aldermen in a close race with challenger Larry E. Hooper Jr.

The other two races for alderman — Wards 4 and 5 — were even tighter and were too close to call on Tuesday night. The three aldermen races were the only contested races on the Natchez municipal election ballot.

Hall defeated Hooper 295 votes to 232 votes, which includes absentee ballots counted by the Adams County Election Commission after polls closed..

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However, Election Commissioner Larry Gardner said affidavit ballots and some absentees yet to arrive have not been counted. Gardner said absentee ballots must have been postmarked by Tuesday, and the election commission by law has to give them five business days to arrive.

“That means we have to give them until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to arrive,” he said.

Affidavit ballots, which he said are not many, will be counted next Wednesday, depending on whether weather conditions allow.

In Ward 4, including absentee ballots, incumbent Felicia Bridgewater-Irivng leads challenger Michael Calcote 252 to 231. Calcote said Tuesday night he will not concede the election.

“I plan to stay in the race until all votes have been counted. It’s been a long race and I am still being encouraged and I am in it until the last vote has been counted,” Calcote said.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank God first, for without him, none of this would be possible,” said Bridgewater-Irving.

She also thanked her family for their support and encouragement.

“To the voters of Ward 4, thank you for your trust, thank you for your support and thank you for your vote. What you did today was send a strong message that we are better together. We will continue to build on this momentum. We will continue to make our neighborhoods safe, grow our local businesses and ensure every child is successful in his or her pursuits. Thank you for saying yes to progress,” Bridgewater-Irving said.

“These are difficult times for all of us, but we are better and stronger together. I look forward to continuing my working relationship with the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. We are Natchez strong and we are Natchez proud,” she said. “Let’s continue to move forward and shine a light on Natchez so bright for all the world to see.”

In Ward 5, the closest race, incumbent Ben Davis leads challenger Jamar White 84 votes to 72 votes.

After the initial votes were counted, Davis said, “I am going to continue to do my job.”

White said he will not concede the race at this point. “I will remain in it until the last vote is counted,” he said.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Valencia Hall said she looks forward to four more years doing her job.

“I am very pleased with the votes from the citizens of Ward 1 and I look forward to four more years of serving and accomplishing more for the citizens of Natchez,” she said.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said he is grateful for another four years.

“I am excited and grateful for another four years. I am grateful that we can continue to do so many great things for Natchez. I am grateful for those aldermen who have been there with me and I will continue to work with all of the aldermen to move Natchez forward. We can’t do anything if we are arguing and bickering. We have to make sure we move forward together,” Gibson said.

He congratulated all three incumbent aldermen on their victories.

“Valencia Hall is one of the hardest working public servants I have had the pleasure of knowing,” Gibson said. “I want to also congratulate Alderman Davis and Alderwoman Bridgewater-Irving, too, on their victories, knowing both have worked very hard. I look forward to continuing to work with them as well.”

He also congratulated Ward 6 Alderman Curtis Moroney, Ward 4 Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith and Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, as well as municipal judge Christina Daugherty on running unopposed.

Gibson said he talked with Frazier today and is very thankful for their improving friendship.

“I know over the last four years people have said things about my relationship with Alderman Frazier. In fact, we were both called out about that several months ago by Deborah Cosey and I think that was actually a constructive thing for both of us,” Gibson said. “We are talking. We are working with each other and I am very encouraged about what the next four years will look like. One thing I know is we are both passionate about Natchez and we both have deep concern about the people we serve and we are both running unopposed. That has to say something.”