City mayoral race: Figures neutral;
Lathan gives Bedsole edge over Peavy
By Chip Drago
Mobile Bay Times
Does state Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, who may represent more black Mobilians than any other locally-elected official, support Ann Bedsole, a white Republican, or Sam Jones, a black Democrat, in this summer's city elections?
State GOP official Jerry Lathan's disdain for RINO's (Republicans In Name Only) is no secret. Ever since her loss in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 1994, Ann Bedsole's enthusiasm for the GOP has been debated.
So who does Lathan favor in the Mobile mayoral race, given that three of the four candidates have either held office as or run for office as Republicans?
"I am remaining neutral in the mayor's race.
"Ann is a very, very dear friend.
Sam Jones is a good friend as well.
"Ann Bedsole supported me and raised
money for me. I always try to treat people
the way I would want to be treated. I
encouraged Sam to run. I thought it was
a great idea. But when Ann Bedsole got
in, I could not favor someone over her."
Ms. Figures represented District 2 on the City Council until 1995 when her late husband died and she won a special election to succeed him in the state Senate. She defeated state Rep. James Buskey in a battle that rent Mobile's black community politically. Jones remained neutral in the Ms. Figures/Buskey contest.
Along with Jones, Ms. Figures represents more black Mobile countians than any other elected official at the local level.
"Yes, I'm supporting Ann Bedsole.
"I think it's important that someone
who is identified as a Republican
and a fiscal conservative be the next
mayor of Mobile.
"Ann and John (Peavy) have both called and espoused those principles and pledged to govern that way. I told them that whatever value they saw in saying that I was a supporter of theirs, they could go ahead and say it. Ann asked first.
"I don't even live in the city. To the degree that a non-resident's opinion counts, so be it.
"I have good friends supporting both of them that are good Republicans and have been with me in many fights.
"I don't want any of them to think I've chosen one side as a sign that I do not think well of the other. I haven't (chosen Bedsole's side as a repudiation of Peavy) and my feelings are positive toward both. Ann asked first. She has been a Republican her whole career. That gives her a slight lead in Republican credentials with no slight to John. That's just the way it is."
Lathan said he had not spoken with mayoral candidate Bess Rich.
Lathan, a longtime GOP loyalist, is a 48-year-old industrial roofing contractor based in Theodore. He is vice chairman of the state Republican Party, representing the southern one-third of the state.