Recall petition filed against Port Allen Mayor Slaughter

Mayor accused of racial rift

Residents on Friday filed a petition with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office to recall Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter, saying she has racially divided the community and embarrassed the city through her controversial decisions since taking office five months ago.

The petition was filed the day after black and white residents met Thursday night to discuss their frustrations with Slaughter’s administration.

“This is what I thought I should do,” Deloris Kibby said Friday afternoon.

Kibby, and fellow Port Allen resident Millie Jackson, are listed as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, on the petition seeking to recall Slaughter.

“If (she) doesn’t want to listen to the people, the people need to let (her) know (she) needs to do the right thing,” Kibby said.

Kibby, a black woman, has been a vocal critic of the city’s elected officials at several City Council meetings.

During the council’s committee meetings on Wednesday, Kibby criticized city leaders for not moving the city forward because of the ongoing rift between Slaughter and the City Council’s white majority: R.J. Loupe, Hugh “Hootie” Riviere and Garry Hubble.

Slaughter has been involved in a string of controversies since she took office on Jan. 1, including:

Slaughter was confronted this week by City Council members raising concerns because she had not timely produced the city’s proposed 2013-14 fiscal year budget for the council’s consideration and analysis before members have to vote on it by July 1.

Port Allen resident and recall organizer John Michael Lockhart, who is white, said Friday the recall petition drive shows the community is not as racially divided as it has been recently portrayed in televised news reports.

“Every black person I talked to on the phone is outraged with the mayor and disgusted,” Lockhart said. “To me, I knew we had to have the support of the black community to do this.”

Lockhart, publisher of the The Riverside Reader, said his involvement with the petition was driven by the response Slaughter gave him when he asked the mayor what she would do to bring the community back together.

“She had a one-word answer for me: ‘Prayer,’‚ÄČ” he said. “I want something concrete.”

Slaughter said Friday the recall petition will only widen the community’s racial divide.

“I had been informed that some of the white council members put a meeting together this week to start a recall petition but they wanted a black chairman so it would not appear to be racial,” Slaughter said in a prepared statement. “In an effort to reduce the racial tension in our city I have been working for weeks to keep the African-American community from filing a recall petition against Councilman R.J. Loupe since he attacked council member Ray Helen Lawrence at a City Council meeting.”

All three white councilmen denied Slaughter’s accusation Friday. Councilman Hubble called the mayor’s statement “a boldface lie.”

Lockhart said the group hopes to get a recall election on the Oct. 19 ballot.

To do so, they will need the signatures of at least one-third — approximately 1,270 — of the city’s total qualified voters, according to state statute.

“We’re shooting for 1,500 signatures,” Lockhart said.

According to the state’s Election Code, the signed recall petition must be submitted to the parish’s Registrar of Voters Office no later than 180 days after it was filed.

The West Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Office then has 15 working days to certify the petition’s signatures, the Election Code says.

The certified petition is sent to the Governor’s Office, which must then issue a proclamation ordering an election be held for the purpose of recalling the mayor, according to the Election Code.

Lockhart said the group hopes to submit the signed petition to the parish’s Registrar of Voters by July 1.