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Natchez votes Tuesday

NATCHEZ — Natchez voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots in the municipal general election.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and 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.

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.

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 for Tuesday’s election:

Mayor

Democratic Party Mayoral nominee Dan Gibson will face independent candidate Phillip West to be Natchez’s next mayor.

Dan Gibson

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.”

Phillip West

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.

Valencia Hall

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.”

Jamar White

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.

Felicia Bridgewater-Irving

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.

Brenda Floyd

Floyd, a local business owner, declined to be interviewed for this story.

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