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Monday, Oct. 27, 2014

WHO WILL BE OUR NEXT MAYOR?

An outlook on the candidates, voters in Shreveport

shreveport-election

Nov. 4 is Election Day. Voters in the city of Shreveport will elect a new mayor since current Mayor Cedric Glover is term-limited after serving two terms as the city’s first black mayor. With seven candidates on the ballot, it is likely that there will be a runoff for the city’s top job Dec. 6.

There have been six active candidates in the mayor’s race. They are accountant Anna Marie Arpino, attorney and City Councilman Sam Jenkins, businesswoman and teacher Victoria Provenza, evangelist Melvin Slack, former Caddo Schools Superintendent Ollie Tyler and state Rep. Patrick Williams. Jim Crowley qualified, but later announced he was dropping out of the race. However, he has not filed the appropriate paperwork with the Louisiana secretary of state, so technically he is still a candidate, will be on the ballot, and any votes he receives will be counted.  He held a press conference recently to announce he is now actively campaigning.

Before going any further, it is important to take a look at the voter registration statistics for the Nov. 4 election provided by Caddo Registrar of Voters Ernie Roberson. There are 129,602 registered voters in the city of Shreveport. Of that total, 55,216 (42.6 percent) are white, 69,088 (53.3 percent) are black, and 5,298 (4.1 percent) are other races. By party affiliation, 69,224 (53.4 percent) are Democrats, 30,684 (23.7 percent) are Republicans, and 29,694 (22.9 percent) are Other Party/No Party. Roberson is predicting a voter turnout of 46-49 percent for the mayor’s race.

By party affiliation, Jenkins, Tyler, and Williams are Democrats, Arpino and Slack are “Other Party,” and Provenza and Crowley are “No Party.” For the first time since the city went to the mayor-council form of government, there is no Republican candidate on the ballot for mayor.

The road to win any elective office is never easy these days, and the mayor’s race has proved no exception. There have been forums galore, hosted by business and civic groups and neighborhood associations. The questions asked of the candidates have run the usual gamut, from streets and drainage to city finances to white flight to future plans to move the city forward.

And social media is playing a role in this election, as well. The race has been mean-spirited and contentious at times, as supporters of Williams have posted negative comments about some of the candidates on Facebook and on websites. For the most part, the other candidates and their supporters have stayed on the high road.

The campaign has also been filled with controversy for some of the candidates. Williams has had to explain the revelation (in The Times and on KTBS-TV) that he double-dipped on his legislative expenses, charging both the state and his campaign committee for the same expense. The issue refuses to go away, even though Williams said he has reimbursed his campaign committee.

Three candidates, Jenkins, Tyler and Williams came under fire for violating campaign finance laws, according to the required reports filed with the Louisiana Ethics Commission on Oct. 6. Jenkins accepted a $1,000 contribution from a religious nonprofit. It was not illegal for him to do so, but it was illegal for the church to make the contribution, which could jeopardize its tax-exempt status.

The Williams campaign accepted a loan which was over the legal limit of $25,000. The loan was for $29,745.44 from Bike LLC. Another loan for $25,000 came from Haleaux LLC. Both entities are owned by attorney John Settle. His wife, Diane Steen, also loaned $10,000 to the Williams campaign. Williams subsequently personally borrowed $81,500 in bank loans to pay off those loans.  

Williams also accepted contributions which were above the $2,500 limit for a single election. His committee has rectified the discretions. Tyler accepted contributions which were over the $2,500 limit, as well, and said she will refund the overages Nov. 5.

Speaking of money, it has not been easy to come by for the mayoral candidates, perhaps because there seems to be no clear frontrunners and the usual Democrat versus Republican Party match-ups are absent in this race. In 2006, Republican mayoral candidate Jerry Jones spent $900,000 in a losing cause, while the winner, Cedric Glover, spent about $500,000. In 2010, Glover spent $473,000 on his re-election effort, while Republican Bryan Wooley spent $285,000 and lost.

There is still a ways to go in the money-raising battle, and totals for the two who make the runoff will certainly increase. But thus far, as of the reporting period Jan. 1 through Sept. 25, most of the candidates have had to reach into their own pockets.

While Williams reported the most money raised, $321,014, loans accounted for $146,245 of that, which means he had individual contributions of $174,769, which makes him the leader in that category. Coming in second with individual contributions was Tyler with $147,430 (plus a $2,000 loan), followed by Provenza with $25,745 (plus a $2,400 loan), Jenkins with $10,050 (he had $29,630 in his campaign fund at the beginning of the reporting period), and Slack with $1,600 (plus a $2,400 loan). Arpino is not accepting contributions, and Crowley did not receive any individual contributions.

One thing is for certain. This is a critical election for Shreveport. The next mayor will not have an easy job and will likely determine whether the city moves forward or falls into decline.


Anna Marie Arpino
Date of birth:
March 11, 1958
Education: Bachelor of business administration in accounting from Northeast Louisiana University, Monroe
Family: Engaged to a retired USAF inspector general fraud investigator. No children
Religion: Catholic
Current employment: Business Solutions Accounting, 2000 to present
Previous elected office: None


Sam Jenkins
Date of birth:
February 19, 1956
Education: Bachelor of science degree; juris doctor degree from Southern University
Family:  Married to Cynthia Hightower-Jenkins; two children, Atari and Aunia
Religion: Baptist
Current employment: Attorney
Previous elected office: Caddo Commission 2006-10; Shreveport City Council 2010-present


Victoria Provenza
Date of birth:
September 24, 1960
Education: Bachelor of science in geology with honors 1983, Centenary College; GIS certification August 2006, University of Denver
Family: Single. One son and one daughter in college
Religion: Catholic
Current employment: Teacher of information services and technology, Byrd High School
Previous elected office: None


Melvin Slack

Date of birth: July 31, 1970
Education: 12th grade; Inter-Grand Baptist Theological Seminary
Family: Single father with two sons, Emmanuel, 10 and Nehemiah, 8
Religion: Non-denominational
Current employment: Entrepreneur; nationwide evangelist
Previous elected office: None


Ollie Tyler
Date of birth:
January 6, 1945
Education: Bachelor of science from Grambling, master of education from LSU-Baton Rouge; 42 hours of graduate work above a master’s degree
Family: Married to the late Rev. James C. Tyler and has one son, one stepdaughter, and two grandchildren
Religion: Baptist
Current employment: Retired. Served as superintendent of Caddo Parish Schools; Louisiana State Deputy Superintendent of Education; and Louisiana Acting Superintendent of Education
Previous elected office: None


Patrick Williams
Date of birth:
November 24, 1963
Education: Bachelor of arts in architecture 1987 Southern University Baton Rouge; master of business administration 2000 Centenary College; Ph.D. candidate Walden University, Baltimore, MD
Family: Married to Karanda Jackson Williams, daughter of the late K.R. Jackson. No children
Religion: Baptist
Current employment: Self-employed, Williams Enterprises LLC
Previous elected office: Caddo Parish Commission 2002-04; State Representative 2007-present

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