Jindal taps Lynn Robertson as Port Allen’s interim mayor

Gov. Bobby Jindal on Tuesday appointed former Mayor Lynn Robertson to serve as interim mayor of Port Allen in the wake of Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter’s recall from office.

The announcement from the Governor’s Office came exactly 24 hours after the 20-day deadline expired for the Port Allen City Council to make the appointment. Slaughter vacated the office on Nov. 25.

The City Council canceled a special-called Monday meeting because the five-member body could not reach a consensus on who should serve as interim mayor.

Robertson, 57, served as the city’s first woman mayor from 1993 to 2004. She also serves on the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission as a gubernatorial appointee representing West Baton Rouge Parish.

Robertson said Tuesday she has already reached out to several city councilmen and hopes to use her short time in office to bring the fractured community back together.

Slaughter’s 11-month tenure in office was peppered with racial tension that polarized sectors of the community and even the City Council down racial lines.

“I think everyone is ready to work together,” Robertson said. “I just plan to do the same things I did as mayor: try to bring different sectors of the community together and work toward the same common goal. We want to promote the positive things going on. There are a lot.”

Robertson was one of three names being tossed around for the interim spot during the past several weeks.

The other was retiree Ted Denstel, a former president of West Baton Rouge Parish, who Councilman Hugh “Hootie” Riviere supported.

“While Lynn wasn’t my first choice, I know she is more than capable and will do the job that needs to be done,” Riviere said in a text message Tuesday night. “I do look forward to working with her.”

Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence, the city’s mayor pro tem, has said she was urged by constituents to seek the interim mayor’s position as well.

Lawrence has had the title of acting mayor since Slaughter left office.

Robertson, who serves as the executive director of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, will serve as head of the city’s administration until voters select a new mayor in the general election in May 2014.

Slaughter can seek reelection in the upcoming elections.

Robertson has indicated she has no intentions of seeking the job on a full-time basis.

“I have a very short window to work with in trying to get things done,” Robertson said. “We’ll tackle them one by one and work together to get them done.”

One of the first tasks Robertson is expected to address as interim mayor is presenting a 2013-14 budget to the City Council for approval.

The City Council is nearly six months late approving a new spending plan due to past strife between Slaughter and members of the council.

The council attempted in November to adopt a budget but it was vetoed by Slaughter a week before the Nov. 16 recall election.

Since July 1, the city has operated on 50 percent of the revenue from its 2012-13 budget.

Chief Financial Officer Audrey McCain said Tuesday a special-called meeting to introduce a 2013-14 budget could happen as early as Thursday and probably no later than Monday.

“We’re just going to hit the ground running tomorrow,” McCain said about Robertson’s appointment. “We probably won’t be adopting a budget until the first meeting in January.”

The city is required by state law to allow a 10-day period for public review after the proposed budget is introduced followed by at least one public hearing.