Candidates for Central offices talk about police, infrastructure at Monday forum
CENTRAL — Mayoral candidate Dave Freneaux told a forum audience Monday that he is the only candidate for Central mayor who does not want to increase the size of the City Council from five seats to seven.
Freneaux also said he is the only candidate for mayor who supported the incorporation of Central as well as the city’s creation of its own school system.
Freneaux’s lone opponent in the race, “Jr.” Shelton, did not attend Monday’s forum.
The remarks were made Monday night at the Central High School Theater during a meet-and-greet forum sponsored by the Republican Women of Central and the Central Republican Coalition.
Freneaux and Shelton are vying for the seat held by Central Mayor Shelton “Mac” Watts, who decided not to run again.
One of two candidates for Central police chief, Kerry Clark, told the audience that the city has no need for a full-time police department.
“Police departments cost lots of money,” said Clark, a 30-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department who retired as a captain.
“You can’t write tickets to support a police department,” Clark said.
The city has an elected police chief and volunteer officers who work part-time.
Clark also said he doesn’t like paying taxes and he won’t raise taxes on Central residents.
Clark’s opponent, James Salsbury, did not attend Monday’s forum.
The two men are trying to fill the chief’s job currently held by Doug Browning. Browning is not running again.
There are 11 candidates running for the city’s five at-large council seats.
Current City Council members Aaron Moak, Ralph Washington and Wayne Messina are running for re-election.
The eight new candidates for the Central City Council are June T. Dupuy, Mike Gardner, Jason Ellis, Shane Evans, Kim Fralick, Eric Frank, Harry Rauls and John Vance.
Fralick and Washington did not attend Monday’s forum.
Just about every candidate who attended Monday’s forum cited the need to improve infrastructure to lure economic development to the city. The city operates on a two percent sales tax and a few fees. The city does not collect property taxes.
“The lack of sewer is a problem. We don’t have any gravity drainage for a new business to tie into,” said candidate Ellis, a U.S. Army veteran and engineer who specializes in road and drainage work.
The only city council candidate to address law enforcement was Evans.
“We need to start a plan that looks at the future of public safety. Not for now. But we need a timeline for the future,” Evans said.
The Central elections are scheduled for April 5. The runoff, if needed, will be May 3.
All the candidates in the three Central races are Republicans.