Voters oust Slaughter in historic recall election

Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter became the first West Baton Rouge Parish official to be ousted from office when 57 percent of the voters Saturday supported a recall effort.

The unofficial results showed 43 percent voted against the recall of Slaughter, a first-term mayor, with 2,554, or 63 percent, of the city’s 4,055 qualified voters casting ballots in the election, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

West Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Stacy Ryan confirmed Slaughter is the first elected official to face a recall election in the parish.

Slaughter has until Nov. 25 to contest the election results. If she does not contest the results, she will have to vacate office by 4:30 p.m. Nov. 25, Ryan said.

If she contests the election, a state district court judge will have to hold a trial within four days after a lawsuit is filed, according to state law.

State law mandates the City Council appoint an interim mayor within 20 days after the mayor vacates her post. If the council does not appoint an interim mayor within the 20-day period, the governor must fill the vacancy.

That person will serve as interim mayor until the primary elections April 5, 2014. Slaughter can run for the mayor’s post again in next year’s election.

Slaughter would not say Saturday night if she intended to run again but said there’s a possibility she will contest the results.

“I heard there were some ballots that were thrown out,” she said.

Slaughter thanked her supporters and reiterated she had no regrets about the decisions and actions she made during her tenure.

“I will continue to move on,” she said.

Deloris Kibby, chairwoman of the Committee to Recall Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter, “thanked God” Saturday night that voters supported the group’s effort.

“I knew the entire time this would happen,” she said. “I never start a race to lose.”

John Michael Lockhart, another organizer behind the recall effort, said he wasn’t shocked by the results either.

“I’m hopeful the interim mayor, whoever that is, will bring the city together and create a workable environment in City Hall that we didn’t have since she took office,” he said. “I believe that the council members will start to work well together now.”

Slaughter became the target of a recall effort less than six months into her first term as mayor.

Her administration has been peppered with controversy, beginning immediately after she took office in January when she was criticized for charging taxpayers the $2,500 cost of a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.

Slaughter’s decision to hire her brother-in-law, Ralph Slaughter, as her non-salaried chief of staff also drew fire.

In February, Slaughter was embroiled in a protracted legal fight with Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain, whom Slaughter tried to fire without City Council approval.

Slaughter was sued by three City Council members — Hugh “Hootie” Riviere, R.J. Loupe and Garry Hubble — who asserted the mayor was abusing her executive powers.

The three city councilmen signed the petition after a mass exodus of city employees quit their jobs because they said Slaughter had created a hostile work environment.

The public’s latest contention with Slaughter was over her Nov. 4 veto of the City Council’s 2013-14 fiscal budget.

The council’s inability to muster the two-thirds majority vote it needed to overturn Slaughter’s veto now places the city’s Fire Department in danger of shutting down by as early as Nov. 25 due to a lack of funding.

The tension between Slaughter and several members within her administration along with the three councilmen, who are white, has often polarized the community along racial lines during City Council meetings. Her supporters contend Slaughter wasn’t given a fair chance to serve as mayor because she’s black.

Slaughter becomes the 71st elected official statewide to be removed from office in a recall election since 1966, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Slaughter is the second mayor in the state to be recalled from office this year.

In April, Judy Tillman, mayor of the village of Heflin in Webster Parish, was removed from office. And the mayors in the village of Wilson in East Feliciana Parish and the village of Creola in Grant Parish were removed from office in March and November of 2010, respectively.

“We usually have a couple of recall efforts a year,” said Meg Casper, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office.