Former Sorrento Mayor Wilson Longanecker Sr. has withdrawn from his bid to take office for a third term, effectively electing Mike Lambert as the town’s next mayor.
Longanecker Sr.’s withdrawal, confirmed by the Secretary of State Office’s website, means that Lambert will take office as mayor of Sorrento on July 1, succeeding Longanecker’s son, Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr.
“I got a phone call yesterday afternoon from Wilson Longanecker (Sr.) saying he had decided to drop out of the race,” Lambert said in a phone interview Thursday morning.
Longanecker Sr. said in a prepared statement that his pool business had seen an uptick in activity this week and he didn’t have the time to commit to campaigning or being mayor. He said his work schedule takes him from Denham Springs to Houma, which would leave him little time to commit to Sorrento.
“My time to be mayor would be extremely limited and wouldn’t afford me time to meet with the various engineers, attorneys and other officials to move Sorrento forward,” Longanecker Sr. said. “It wouldn’t be right for the citizens in our town to elect an official that couldn’t perform the duties encumbered upon him.
“With everything in mind and also not being able to mount any worthwhile attempt to campaign for the general election because of my vast increase in work schedule, I decided to withdraw from this election and allow my opponent to become mayor of the town of Sorrento,” he said.
Longanecker Sr., who was the town’s mayor from 1989 to 1997, was the leading vote-getter in Saturday’s three-candidate primary election, receiving 182 of 444 votes, for 41 percent.
Lambert finished second in the primary, receiving 135 votes, or 30 percent, 8 votes ahead of Jason Adams.
Lambert’s election means the town will have a first-time mayor as well as majority of the five-member Town Council taking office for the first time on July 1.
Only Randy Anny, who is mayor pro tem, and Marvin Martin were re-elected to the council. Adams chose to run for mayor instead of seeking re-election on the council, while incumbents Milton “Needlenose” Vicknair and John Wright were not among the top five vote-getters on Saturday.
Newcomers Wanda Bourgeois, Don Schexnaydre and Patti Poche will join Anny and Martin on the council.
Longanecker Sr. said he wished Lambert and the other newly elected town officials well as they attempt to change the town’s image.
“When I entered this race for mayor, my goals were to work with all the newly elected town officials for the best interest of our town and to move forward for projects that would benefit our citizens,” he said.
“I enjoyed every minute conversing with many old friends and some new friends I had made.”
Lambert said he was surprised when Longanecker Sr. told him about his decision to drop out of the race. The runoff was scheduled for May 4, with early voting to begin on April 20.
“I was geared for a tough campaign,” Lambert said. “He was a very worthy opponent. I would have had a long, hard battle to beat him. I’m relieved that I don’t have another month of campaigning.”
Lambert said he wished Longanecker Sr. well in the future and assured him that he would work hard to make Sorrento a better place to work and live. Before taking office on July 1, Lambert said, he has a lot of work ahead of him.
“I need to sit down and try to get a good overview of everything in town,” Lambert said. “I need to look at the finances, get a grasp of the sewer system, get a grasp of the day-to-day operations of the town as far as the main streets, ditches and all that.
“That will be the thing, and then start developing our priorities, getting with the new and current council members and trying to set priorities of the town and start working on those projects,” Lambert said. “We have to try to show people we mean business and truly want to make change and work to make a positive image for Sorrento.”
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