Effort to recall Port Allen councilman fails

Councilman-at-Large R.J. Loupe got to breathe a sigh of relief Wednesday afternoon after an effort to oust the 30-year veteran councilman officially ran out of steam.

Residents seeking to recall Loupe had until 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to submit a petition containing 1,285 signatures from the city’s qualified voters to the West Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters Office.

The deadline expired without the recall petition being filed.

The recall effort against Loupe was launched on Sept. 4 by residents who supported former Mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter. The group had 180 days — until March 4 — to collect the 1,285 signatures.

That deadline was extended until Wednesday since government offices were closed Tuesday for Mardi Gras.

The group filed the recall petition with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office a day after a different group of residents had submitted to the Registrar’s Office a signed recall petition against Slaughter, who was later ousted from office after a Nov. 16 recall election.

“This was all, more or less, a revenge-seeking ordeal,” Loupe said after the City Council’s committee meetings Wednesday night. “I didn’t do anything wrong to get hung up in a recall effort.”

Larry Profit and Gizele Thompson were named as chairman and vice chairman, respectively, in the recall petition against Loupe. Neither could be reached for comment.

Loupe made up one third of the three-member council majority — which also included councilmen Hugh “Hootie” Riviere and Garry Hubble — involved in several highly publicized political battles with Slaughter during her 11-month tenure as mayor.

Loupe and the two councilmen, all white, were often called racists by the former mayor’s supporters for challenging Slaughter, a black woman, on many of her more controversial actions.

Six months into her tenure as mayor the three councilmen filed a lawsuit against Slaughter asserting she was abusing her executive powers in the handling of municipal affairs.

Loupe said Wednesday he’s happy to put the ordeal behind him so he and other city officials can move on to more important business.

“I feel a lot better now; I’m more confident,” he said. “I’m not worried about it anymore. It’s not hanging over my head.”

Registrar Stacy Ryan said the group would have to file a new recall petition with the Secretary of State’s Office and begin the 180-day process all over again if they still hoped to remove Loupe from the council.

“It is an extremely difficult process that is extremely difficult to get on a ballot. It doesn’t happen that often,” Ryan said.

According to her records, Ryan said Loupe joins a small list of other failed recall attempts against Port Allen officials. That list includes former mayor Derek Lewis and former police chiefs Fred Smith and Harry Brown. “Deedy Slaughter was the only one that ever got as far as having a signed petition submitted to the Registrar’s Office in this parish,” she said. “I’ve heard nothing from the (Loupe recall group). Nothing at all.”