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Ballot Initiative in Vicksburg: A Change in Government



city hall

Vicksburg, MS – A diverse group of several hundred community members have signed a petition
that will require a vote on the city of Vicksburg’s current form of government – which has been
in effect since the 1880s. The current form consists of one mayor and two aldermen who control
how roughly $136 million of local tax dollars are spent throughout their elected four-year terms.
With upcoming city elections in 2025, various community members have again raised concerns about the city’s form of government and how it impacts citizens from every walk of life.

The petition calls for a change to a council-manager form where voters would elect a five-person
city council which includes a mayor and five council members. The council would then exercise
the legislative power of the city and hire a city manager, who would be the chief administrative
officer of the city. While the council would be the policy-making body for the city, the city
manager would handle the day-to-day operations, including the management of city employees,
budget preparation, and fiscal management.

The petition, if signed by 10% of Vicksburg’s registered voters, would require a special election
be held to allow Vicksburg voters to directly determine how their city will operate going

“In the council-manager system, you have a city manager who is somewhat removed from
politics, who is a professionally trained individual, appointed, and hired by the city to run the
city,” said Dr. Dallas Breen, executive director of the Stennis Institute of Government &
Community Development at Mississippi State University.

“City managers are on call 24/7 and answer to or are accessible by the people. That tends to be the form that people tend to ask the most questions about. You have someone who more often than not is from the outside and says, ‘I’m going to make this efficient, effective, local government.’ There’s a clear vision for what needs to get done and there’s somewhat less political pressure.”

The council-manager form of government that is being proposed for Vicksburg would allow a
trained professional (city manager) to work alongside city department heads and the city council
to ensure that city employees receive competitive wages to effectively promote employee
retention and productivity.

The council-manager form of government is one of the most popular nationwide although few
cities in Mississippi use it. The City of Jackson, for example, does not use the council-manager
form that is being proposed for Vicksburg but instead uses the mayor-council form of
government which is considered a strong-mayor form of government where the mayor serves as
the chief executive of the city.

A public meeting to discuss the ballot initiative effort currently underway in Vicksburg is
scheduled for Thursday, July 25th, at 5:30 pm in the Warren County courthouse. Dr. Breen of the
Stennis Institute of Government will be on hand to discuss the current form of government in
Vicksburg and the proposed council-manager form and to answer questions of the community.
The petition can be found at Levee Street Marketplace or by calling or texting 769.293.4622.

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