Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Natchez Opts for the Status Quo

Yesterday the voters of Natchez had an opportunity for fresh, exciting, new government, but it may have been too scary. Instead voters chose the same ol' same ol'.

I still think City government will be better than it was. We do have three new aldermen, and maybe this election will teach those that were reelected a lesson or two. Although many of my friends think I was too easy on Middleton in my article, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

There are several interesting pieces of information that have come out after the election. However, I'm tired of this election, and I'll leave that to the commenters to discuss.

I want to conclude this election with a positive note by telling you how proud I was to support Gwen Ball for Alderwoman Ward 3. She was an even better candidate that I imagined.

First of all, she worked incredibly hard and was motivated totally by her deep caring for the citizens of Natchez. In order to be totally free from any special interests, she funded her campaign herself, except for unsolicited donations. As she went door to door to talk to voters, it was amazing how many people connected with her. Regardless of where they lived, what their economic status was, their age, race, or gender, they trusted her to take care of them, their concerns, and their city.

In fact, I think the only mistake her campaign made was she started too late. Although she knocked on practically every door in her ward, many were not home. She did try to call those she missed, but it's not the same as a personal visit, and it's hard to get people on the phone. If she had started earlier, she could have met with more voters, and I'm convinced she would have won.

I'm very sad that Natchez will not have the benefit of her caring, courage, and wisdom. She truly would have made a difference.


Anonymous said...

"There are several interesting pieces of information that have come out after the election. However, I'm tired of this election, and I'll leave that to the commenters to discuss."

Give us a break. We haven't heard ANYTHING.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to know too?????

Anonymous said...

"several interesting pieces of info" eh, sounds like sour grapes to me. There is always good and bad on both sides, not matter the party, no matter the person. It happens every election, feelings are hurt, some frienships never mended and it's a shame.

I will say this, both mayoral candidates were perfectly capable and ran good campaigns. There are always several "bad apple" supporters.

There are a few people who will remain bitter because their candidate lost. But as far as the Mayors Race goes, Middleton dominated this election in a landslide. No amount of negative posts on this website will change those HUGE numbers.

As far as remaining the same, half the board is different with a new mayor. How can you say that Natchez chose the status quo? That's a lot of people replaced.

Anonymous said...

When you have Pollard and Middleton, both part of the previous less than effective administration, reelected (not to mention Arceneaux and Gray!) - then that's "status quo". Perhaps the newcomers will help make up for not "running all the rascals out" Too bad about Gwen and Chick. They ran good, clean races. Hope they'll still be willing to attend meetings and be advocates for open, honest government.

Anonymous said...

If you liked the last 16 years, you'll love the next 4

Anonymous said...

2:06--you hope Chick will continue to attend alderman meetings. I don't think he ever did attend any meetings until maybe he got talked into running for mayor. Like he said he's going back to enjoying his retirement.

I haven't heard any thing negative about this election and that is rare for this town. I agree, it sounds like sour grapes.

I think the name calling and practically litigious personal attacks made about the incumbent alderman on this blog turned people off and did more harm than good.

Anonymous said...

It surely does appear that Casey Ann Hughes is the political kiss of death.

The people she supports tend to lose most of the time.

I suppose there are several possible causes for this phenomenon:

1. She's completely out of touch with the majority of American society.

2. She's a genius ahead of her time, and society hasn't caught up to her as of yet.

Anonymous said...

Ms Ball would have been a disaster. Liberals spend the town into debt and God only knows what kind of social agenda she had in mind. Thanks Natchez Voters!

Anonymous said...

I do not consider Casey to be the "kiss of death". She was closely attuned to my campaign. She knew I worked hard and she too worked very hard on managing the data I'd collected as i walked the ward.

The Natchez Democrat was obviously biased in their pre-election coverage. They referred to me as the "mother" candidate and deleted the critical Worley-Bartley connection in Jan Byrne's letter to the editor.

Pollard finally realized he needed to put some effort into his campaign. (He'd early on boasted that he would beat me one to five.) He placed his signs in legally restricted areas including one neighborhood where he failed to knock on a single door. He failed to file the legally required financial campaign data like the rest of us. He submitted 0s on the two early reports and then on the day of election, when it was too late, he submitted all the data which revealed Worley's support of $4000.

Someone who lived in his ward told me that I wouldn't win because I was too honest. I heard a lot of complaints while walking the ward. I learned that politicians flaunt the law, hand out favors to their buddies, even themselves, while others needs are ignored.

I also learned that there are some wonderful people in this community who really do care about the integrity of city government.

I'm uncomfortable with the thought that I let my supporters down, that I didn't win for all of us, for Natchez. Please don't loose interest in making this a better place for every resident.

Please don't give up the fight at city hall. They need to be scrutinized, and held accountable. I'm going to trust that they conduct our business honestly and openly, but we cannot take that for granted. Please join me as we strive for Open Government.

Gwen Ball

Anonymous said...

Trust me, 6:23, you would have been first on her "social agenda" list 'cause it sounds like you need it more than most.

Anonymous said...

I have to ask Gwen (and I mean no disrespect), what's your issue with Worley? They have done some wonderful things for our town and spent lots of money. He was recently honored at a Chamber after Hours, along with many others, for his work in tourism within our town. I don't think there is any reason to purposely withhold info concerning his contribution to Pollards campaign. Most Natchezians appreciate what he's done here. Only the select few who still hold a grudge over the pecan factory feel otherwise.

2. EVERY politician hears complaints when they are knocking on doors.

3. Favors???? That's why it's called politics. Not saying it's right, but if that surprised you, well, you're not as smart as I thought you were.

4. Lastly, on the open meetings issue. While there have been some issues with that, ALL local governments deal with it. If you read other newspapers across our state, it happens all the time. Most of the time it's unintentional. Saying you are for "open government" is like saying you are for "honest government." Basically, I'm saying, who's not for that? Our supervisors have been criticized for the same thing, but again, they didn't necessarily mean any harm by it. You should have focused on specific issues. Anyone could have said they were for "open government." That's not a platform.

Just some advice. I do agree though, that Pollard waited late to campaign for whatever reason.
But again, your complaining about signs and campaign reports. This is a local election, only a few hundred people voted in our ward. Do you really think they care about signs or when Pollard filed his contributions? Good or bad, I'm hear to tell you that they do not.

Anonymous said...

I am not naive to the politics. I've heard about the good, the bad and the ugly of Natchez politics for 35years. Nonetheless I do expect honesty, integrity and openness in government and that includes local, state and natinal. Why not? Why not do it right? If they're not, there's a reason and that reason is usually some kind of corruption is taking place. The Mississippi legislature has just created a new senate ethics committee to look into our open-meetings laws, to give people better access to government. Just because it's always been wrong isn't a valid reason to continue with the wrong.

Mr. Worley was favored with the option agreement to build on the bluff. The manner in which the city sold the property remains in question. I find it specious, at best, that Mr. Worley gave these guys a big check. It's either a "thank you" or "I want more". I'm uncomfortable with that. And, if it's so right then why did Pollard and Middleton hide the fact until the day of the election? Don't tell me it's just politics. It may be your kind of politics but it's not mine and there are, indeed, a lot of people out there who'd like to see it changed. And, I and others, I'm sure, will continue to work for

In regard to the signs, ignoring the sign ordinance is, in my opinion, an indication that they will ignore other laws, more important laws. That behavior is indicative of disrespect for the law and the people they are elected to serve.

Meetings should be conducted according to the Mississippi Code. If infringement is accidental, as you believe, then why have they not taken the effort to become informed? Conducting city business is a serious effort and should not be taken lightly. It's more than just a job, it's a bond created between the official and the public and should be treated with respect, honor and dignity.

Obviously, you are right in one regard. Most people don't care. That was obvious when I walked. 90% of the residents of ward 3 didn't even know who their alderman was. I wanted to change that. I wanted people to care that things were right and I would have worked to see that happen. I wanted to work hard for those people, all of them, for no other reason than: I CARE!

You are in my ward and I regret not having the chance to serve your best interests as well. And, I appreciate the opportunity to address your comments. Thank you. gb

Anonymous said...

Gwen, I think you assume too much. I can't speak for Pollard, but I can assure you that Middleton wasn't hiding anything as far as the Worleys go. Campaigns rely on money to operate and I can tell you that Jake new he was up against some serious money coming from the Chic campaign. Jake won by a 3 to 1 margin yet still had less money than Chic. What does that tell you? The Worleys have a stake in this town now and obviously feel Jake is more friendly to them than Graning, or at least the ones supporting Graning. I don't blame them. They had the money to give, they gave. If I were rich, I'd have given Jake $40,000.

As for corruption, maybe so, maybe not. West is gone, let's give the new board a chance. I can also tell you with certainty that the men you speak of are not dishonest people, even as much as you want to assume they are. I think it's careless on your part to categorize them as such. All politicians are scrutinized to an endless degree. It's easy to spout criticism from the cheap seats. It's a job I wouldn't want especially for that amount of pay. Casting such serious judgement on folks usually doesn't garner more support, it usually leaves a bad taste in peoples mouths.
Although I do admire your dedication and the fact you put yourself out there, I don't think I could do it or stomach it.

I will say though, some people you speak of have full time jobs. Jake will relinquish his when he takes over as mayor. But having families at home, full time jobs and being an alderman is work. I can't blame them for not going home every night reading up on Mississippi Code. You may have the time on your hands, I don't know if you work or not or have a family at home. I know I wouldn't have time. I'd attend meetings and probably learn as I go. It certainly wouldn't mean that I cared any less for this town than a person who knew Mississippi Code from front to back. Most religious folks can't even spout off the full 10 Commandments, it doesn't mean they aren't deeply religious.

As far as the signs go, I couldn't disagree more. I saw just as many Chic signs in illegal places as I did anyone else, especially downtown. And while I supported Middleton, I don't think Graning a dishonest person AT ALL. Many of the signs you speak of aren't even put out by the actual candidate but by his supporters who simply don't know the law. The placing of signs is in no way a judgement on the candidate. Now, stealing a sign, that's a different story.

Voter apathy has been an issue across our country for's a noble cause Gwen, but it doesn't win elections.

Anonymous said...

I have taken your words to heart. It's obvious your comments come from serious contemplation and I've appreciated your candor. I do encourage you to attend several city council meetings and then, perhaps, you will better understand my perspective.

It has long been the practice of this city government to conduct the most important aspects of city business in what is known as "the finance committee meeting". Even requests for city donations are heard behind a closed door. Those meetings usually last about two hours, prior to the public meeting. The decisions are made there, in secret, before the council members come before the public. We are precluded from knowing the details, the reasons for the decision. Ordinarily and by law an announcement is made by the Mayor, before the public, that the council is to adjourn for executive session and the reason for executive session is given. That is not a complicated rule. One should know, by the end of two years and certainly by a four-year term's end, what is legal and what is not. Those details can be found online in the Mississippi Code.

Please know that I do not intend to categorize any of these men as dishonest. I've shared some observations which I feel worthy of consideration and attention - our natural right and obligation as citizens. I have not advocated for Chick in this discussion. I've known Chick for years and think highly of him. Bob ran a clean campaign inspite of the sign misdemeanor. Jake and I are on very good terms and he knows how I feel about the Worley contribution. Phillip West, too, received a contribution of $5000 from Worley. I trust Jake and Bob will listen to all their constiuents, not just those with the deep pockets.

I look forward to the next four years of city government. I have every expectation and trust that our elected officials will approach this new term with fairness, honesty and transparency, opening the doors to the public, so that each of us has an honorable role in making good things happen for Natchez. And, I will remain a proponent for transparency and integrity in our city government. I would be pleased if you joined us in that effort. gb

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed with the unspoken, but acceptable 'law of politics' on our local, state and national level. I too live the dream of honesty and integrity.
Good discussion...I thank each of you for caring enough to talk about it.