Organizers get closer to Slaughter recall election

Organizers behind the effort to oust Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter told city officials Wednesday they have collected enough signatures to request a recall election.

They plan to submit the signed petitions to the West Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Office on Tuesday morning.

Stacy Ryan, West Baton Rouge Parish’s registrar of voters, said the chairmen of the recall committee hand-delivered a letter to her at 8:09 a.m. Wednesday notifying her of the group’s intent to seek the recall election.

Ryan said state law requires the petitioners give her office a three-day notice so that she can make preparations to verify the names on the petitions.

“Once the petitions are submitted, I’ll have to go line-by-line and verify for accuracy, for content and eligibility,” Ryan said Wednesday. “It’s monumental. We have certain software that is used and I, and I alone, will make the final decision whether that (person) is certified or not.”

After the group submits the petitions to her Tuesday, Ryan said, she will have 15 days to certify the signatures before the petitions are sent to the Governor’s Office.

The Governor’s Office will have 15 days to decide whether to set an election to recall the mayor, she added.

“Regardless if there is enough names or not, I will hand-deliver (the petition) to the Governor’s Office,” Ryan said. “The governor is free to call an election any time he chooses to do so.”

Ryan said the recall petition is a first for West Baton Rouge Parish.

The group had until Dec. 4 to gather approximately 1,270 signatures — at least one-third of the city’s qualified voters at the time the petition was filed with the state Secretary of State’s Office on June 7.

John Michael Lockhart, a Port Allen resident and recall organizer, said Wednesday the group has collected more than 1,400 signatures.

“The first 1,000 names came very quickly, then it kind of slowed down,” Lockhart said. “As things continued to happen at City Hall, people continued to come forth — black and white.”

Lockhart said the group saw a surge in support over the weekend after two longtime city employees abruptly quit their jobs Friday.

The two resignations prompted Port Allen city councilmen Garry Hubble and Hugh “Hootie” Riviere to also sign the recall petition, claiming the two employees quit because they could no longer work with the mayor.

The councilmen said a total of five city employees have resigned within the past few weeks because Slaughter has created a hostile work environment.

“Friday was the final straw for a lot of people,” Lockhart said.

The recall supporters still have to convince voters to cast their ballots in favor of removing her from office in the recall election.

Even if they’re successful, Slaughter can still run again for the mayor’s position in a special election.

Slaughter did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

On Tuesday, New Orleans pastor and civil rights activist Rev. Raymond Brown joined two dozen of Slaughter’s supporters outside of City Hall threatening to boycott local businesses if Slaughter wasn’t shown more respect from certain members of the City Council.

Brown called the recall petition a hoax.