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Monday, July 21, 2014

ALL SHOOK UP

New mayoral candidate creates a buzz

The Shreveport mayor’s race has just gotten a lot more interesting. The reason? Victoria Provenza, from a well-known Shreveport family, has thrown her hat into the ring – with a lot of gusto. She becomes the first white candidate to enter the race with the primary set for Nov. 4.

Her enthusiasm and message could strike a cord and become contagious with a lot of Shreveport voters. She is intelligent, energetic, passionate and having fun as a candidate. Provenza is determined to run a grassroots campaign, and so far, she is showing the local politicos she is serious about her candidacy. She has been able to gather enough signatures on a petition so she does not have to pay a $300 qualifying fee.

And since she is running as an independent – which is no party in Louisiana – she won’t have to fork over any money to state and local Democratic and Republican political organizations. The state party can require a $150 fee to run as can the parish party organization. She said, “Shreveport is not for sale,” and promises to be elected without owing anything to any political party or faction. Provenza believes money is what is corrupting the political system. I don’t think anyone will disagree with that.

If she can pull it off and get elected, it would be a refreshing change for the city of Shreveport. That remains to be seen, of course, but I would advise the other candidates in the race not to underestimate her determination – and her message. Are voters tired of the same people running for office after office and nothing ever seems to change? Provenza believes they are, and as a fresh face with fresh ideas, she is convinced she can have an impact.

In another development, many local politicos were a bit befuddled to learn that former Mayor Keith Hightower’s chief administrative officer, Ken Antee, has resurfaced and leaped into the political eye. And what was his vehicle? A meet and greet for mayoral candidate state Rep. Patrick Williams at the East Ridge Country Club last week that attracted about 70 people. There are a lot of scenarios being tossed around over this development.

First off, Williams, in his announcement for mayor, said he was the “new breed” of leaders for Shreveport and that he would not be obligated to any political faction nor the politics of the past. So why would he be at a meet and greet with Antee? Does this mean Hightower is not going to try and take back the mayor’s office? He has been silent over the past few weeks and has not responded to emails asking him if he is going to run. But Antee was honest with KTBS-TV, saying Williams understands if Hightower does decide to run, that’s where he will be – with his former boss. Mike Strong, who ably served the city of Shreveport for many years and was director of operational services under Hightower, is part of the Williams campaign team.

Meanwhile, rumors were rampant that Ollie Tyler, the former superintendent of Caddo Parish Schools, had decided not to run and would not qualify to run for mayor. Qualifying is Aug. 20-22. The rumors apparently sprang up because Tyler has basically been out of sight and inaccessible since her public announcement and reports emerged about turmoil among her campaign advisers. Supporters of her mayoral run vehemently denied the rumors and said the campaign is organized and moving forward. A fundraiser was held for Tyler last week at the Shreveport Club.

Similar rumors that he will not qualify abound about the candidacy of state Rep. Roy Burrell, whose campaign, so far, has been pretty quiet. But Burrell has been involved in Shreveport politics for quite some time, has name recognition, and has run for mayor before. So perhaps the feeling is that he does not have to rush his campaign program.

Also still hanging out there is whether Caddo Commissioner Michael Williams will decide to enter the race. He has told me he will, but has not publicly announced. And no word as yet from businesswoman Maxine Sarpy, reportedly to be state Sen. Greg Tarver’s candidate for the city’s top job. It all adds up to what will be a very interesting race for mayor of Shreveport to succeed Mayor Cedric Glover, who is term-limited after serving two terms. Fireworks Fiasco On a different subject, it was another Fourth of July fireworks fiasco. I had to call the police because of fireworks being discharged in my neighborhood after the 10 p.m. deadline. An 82-yearold woman called to say sparks were flying on her roof. A friend called to let me know fireworks were going off on Slattery Street. They were so loud, I could hardly hear her on the phone.

When I made a second call to the police, I was told there were so many complaints about fireworks that it was difficult for officers to respond promptly. Fireworks were still being discharged at 1:30 a.m. – and the next day.

Hopefully, some city council members got calls of complaint. Whether that makes a difference remains to be seen.

Lou Gehrig Burnett, an award-winning journalist, has been involved with politics for 44 years and was a congressional aide in Washington, D.C., for 27 years. He also served as executive assistant to former Shreveport Mayor Bo Williams. Burnett is the publisher of the weekly “FaxNet Update” and can be reached at 861-0552 or louburnett@comcast.net.

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