Four others vie for spot in April 5 special election
PORT ALLEN — Embattled former mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter is seeking re-election to the office she was ousted from in a recall election. She’s one of five candidates who qualified for the April 5 special election for Port Allen mayor.
Slaughter became the first West Baton Rouge Parish official to be ousted from office when 57 percent of the city’s voters on Nov. 16 supported a recall effort launched against her five months into her first term as mayor.
Qualifying for the special election to fill the remainder of the term ended at 5 p.m. Friday. The other candidates are retired law enforcement officer Richard Lee, retired teacher Kirby Anderson, Leon Goudeau Jr. and Port Allen businessman Larry Bell. All but Goudeau are Democrats. He qualified as a No Party candidate.
Slaughter said Friday she was urged by supporters to return to City Hall and finish the work they elected her to do back in November 2012.
“All I want to do is complete the three-year term I was elected for; I want to complete what I started,” she said. “I have not done anything wrong. None of the allegations brought against me were valid.”
Slaughter’s 11-month tenure in office was peppered with controversy, beginning immediately after she took office in January 2013 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 nonsalaried chief of staff also drew fire.
And in February 2013 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 later sued by three City Council members — Hugh “Hootie” Riviere, R.J. Loupe and Garry Hubble — who asserted the mayor was abusing her executive powers while in office.
In December, Gov. Bobby Jindal appointed Lynn Robertson, a former Port Allen mayor, to serve as interim mayor until voters select a new full-time mayor.
Robertson made it known at the time of her appointment she had no desire to run for mayor.
Should Slaughter be able to reclaim the mayoral seat, she’d be returning to a slightly different City Hall since the City Council has introduced several ordinances seeking to correct those issues at the root of their most controversial battles with Slaughter.
Among the proposed measures introduced by the council on Wednesday were ordinances granting department head status to five administrative positions and a proposal to modify the city’s hiring practices, which a majority of the council accused Slaughter of ignoring while in office.
Three of the candidates Slaughter now faces for the mayor’s post said Friday they’re hoping to run clean campaigns driven by their motivation to forge a better working relationship with the community and the City Council.
“We need change. Right now we need someone in that office that can make a difference,” Richard Lee said Friday.
Lee, a 54-year-old retired law enforcement officer, officially entered the race on the first day of qualifying after he submitted a nomination petition boasting more than 200 signatures on Jan. 31 to the West Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters.
Lee retired as an lieutenant from law enforcement after 33 years, having served an as officer in Port Allen and Baton Rouge working in dispatch, uniform patrol, DWI enforcement, narcotics, traffic homicide investigation and housing authority.
“I really want to keep the campaign positive,” Lee said. “We want to bring the city together by letting the voters know I’m a person that’s trustworthy and honest with positive values.”
Kirby Anderson said he’s also hoping for a positive campaign.
“It wasn’t a fair race when I ran against her before,” Anderson, 59, said, “but I refuse to play dirty with them.”
Anderson was referring to a lawsuit filed by a group of Port Allen residents asking the 18th Judicial District Court to remove Anderson’s name from the November 2012 primary ballot, alleging he wasn’t a properly registered voter or resident of Port Allen.
A state district court judge later dismissed the lawsuit for lack of evidence.
Anderson’s bid for mayor against Slaughter and former mayor Roger Bergeron in 2012 was cut short after he was squeezed out of the race during the runoffs.
Anderson is a Port Allen native who taught at Port Allen High School for more than 30 years and, in 2010, completed the Louisiana State Board Private Investigation Course at Delgado Community College.
He is the son of former West Baton Rouge Parish Councilmen Curtis and Agnes Anderson.
“I think I can really make a positive change for the people,” Anderson said Friday.
Anderson said he was approached by members of the committee behind Slaughter’s recall efforts about running for mayor during the beginning of their campaign to oust her. “I told them when, and if, that time came I would consider it,” he said.
Bell, 63, is a local businessman and lifelong Port Allen resident.
He’s also running on a platform of community harmony and a better working relationship between the City Council and the city administration.
“I feel there could have been a little more effort in the past,” Bell said. “Most of the city councilmen are good people — for the most part. They just have different agendas and ideas and you need that person there who’ll be able to sort them out and get everyone working toward one common goal.”
Goudeau did not return calls seeking comment Friday.
The top two vote-getters will likely square off in a runoff election May 3 should none of five candidates get 50 percent plus one of the votes cast in the April 5 primary.