Without opposition, 4 council seats won
By REBEKAH ALLEN
Advocate staff writer
August 20, 2012
Two no-party candidates officially entered the race for East Baton Rouge Parish mayor-president Friday, challenging incumbent Kip Holden, a Democrat, and Metro councilman Mike Walker, a Republican who chairs the Metro Council as mayor pro tem.
Qualifying for elections ended at 5 p.m. Friday, meaning the candidates have been set for the Nov. 6 primary.
The close of qualifying left four Metro Council members unopposed — including two new members — which secures their seats beginning Jan. 1.
The surprise candidate for mayor-president was Steve Myers, a real estate broker and lawyer, who filed his paperwork with about an hour left before the qualifying period ended. Myers, who also founded LSU football tabloid Tiger Rag, said he’s concerned about the “erosion of civil liberties” at the local level.
As expected, Garden District businessman Gordon Mese also filed his papers to run for mayor-president on Friday afternoon.
“It’s more compulsion than anything,” Mese said about running as he filled out his paperwork. “I’ve been trying not to do this more than anything for the past 10 years, but here I am.”
Myers said he’d like to focus on the FutureBR plan, the city-parish’s new land use and development guidelines, to ensure it’s implemented properly. He said he wants to getting back to basics of fixing roads and taking care of maintenance issues.
He said he will propose a pay increase for Metro Council members, who are currently considered part-time workers, if he is elected. He described it as a “thankless job” and said council members should earn at least $3,000 per month.
Myers has run unsuccessfully for several offices in the past, including for state representative in 1991 and in 1995. He also ran for a seat on the U.S. House of Representatives seat in 1992, 1996 and 1998, although he dropped out in 1998, and has run for School Board.
Myers admitted he’s a “long shot” candidate but said he’d like to invite both Walker and Holden into his administration to tap their skill sets if he wins.
Mese said he is running on a platform of revamping the Unified Development Code, which he said will, in the long term, address problems such as crime, education and blight. He said fixing the UDC will set the stage ensuring Baton Rouge is on the way to becoming an attractive, “hip,” city that will keep people from moving away and shore up its tax base.
With the close of qualifying, four Metro Council members secured their seats beginning in 2013.
Republican Buddy Amoroso, a real estate broker, will replace Walker as the District 8 councilman and Republican Ryan Heck, an Albemarle executive, will replace Alison Gary in District 11. Gary did not seek re-election.
“I’m honored and humbled to be the next councilman for District 11,” Heck said. “I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on the issues.”
Amoroso said he will be accessible to constituents and “try to help as many people as I can” as a council member.
Councilman Ulysses “Bones” Addison, a 12-year councilman who is term-limited and not eligible to run again, said it’s unusual to see two open seats go uncontested. He said open seats generally attract more competition.
The District 2 seat that Addison leaves open attracted eight candidates, more than any other Metro Council race.
“You don’t have to generate the campaign funds or have the great deal of support needed to unseat an incumbent,” Addison said. “It’s an open, equal level playing field.”
Council members Chandler Loupe and Scott Wilson also face no opposition and will return for another term on the council.
More Libertarians than Democrats signed up to run for the Congress during qualifying this year. All the incumbent congressmen drew opponents, although none of the challengers are well-known.
Libertarian candidates qualified in five of the six races. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, was the only candidate who did not attract a candidate from the Libertarian Party in his re-election bid for the New Orleans-area 1st District. However, he has Democratic and Republican challengers, as well as two candidates without party affiliation.
Democrats signed up to run in three of the six congressional districts. In addition, to the 1st District race, Democratic incumbent Rep. Cedric Richmond, of New Orleans, is being challenged by fellow Democrat Gary Landrieu, who is a cousin of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, as well as two Republicans and Libertarian. The newly remapped 2nd District stretches from New Orleans up the Mississippi River to include about 100,000 residents of Baton Rouge.
In the Baton Rouge-based 6th District, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, drew only a Libertarian and no party opponents.
Likewise, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, is being challenged by a Libertarian and an opponent with no party affiliation.
Because Louisiana lost a congressmen due to population loss, the 3rd District pits two incumbents — Reps. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, against each other. Lake Charles personal injury lawyer Ron Richard, a Democrat, jumped into the race late Friday afternoon.
City Court judges
Three of Baton Rouge’s five City Court judges were re-elected Friday when they drew no opposition in the fall elections.
Judges Laura P. Davis, a Republican, and Democrats Kelli Terrell Temple and Yvette M. Alexander were rewarded with new six-year terms that begin Jan. 1, 2013.
Republican City Court Judge Suzan S. Ponder will square off Nov. 6 against two lawyers — Tiffany Foxworth, a Democrat, and Republican Cliff Ivey. Foxworth qualified Friday; Ivey did so Thursday.
City Court Judge Alex “Brick” Wall, a Democrat, will face off against fellow Democrat and lawyer Joel G. Porter on Nov. 6. Porter qualified Friday.
In Livingston Parish, French Settlement Mayor Toni Guitrau and Police Chief Harry Brignac will be returning to office after drawing no opposition, as will Walker Police Chief Marliam Lee.
In Ascension Parish, incumbent Parish Court Judge Marilyn M. Lambert, a Republican, was returned to office without opposition for a third six-year term. Elected to the Donaldsonville City Council without opposition are Lauthaught Delaney Sr. in District 1, with Raymond Aucoin in District 2 and Reginald Francis Sr. in District 3 returned to office.
Kirk Boudreaux was elected without opposition to the Gonzales City Council, while Jason R. Adams, a Republican, was elected without opposition to the Sorrento Town Council.
West Feliciana Parish
In St. Francisville, Mayor Billy D’Aquilla qualified for his eighth term without opposition, while the town’s five aldermen also won re-election without opponents.
D’Aquilla’s son-in-law, Kevin Dreher, also won the remainder of a term as West Feliciana Parish’s only justice of the peace, a post he held for 23 years until retiring in 2007. Dreher will finish the term begun by Dusty Bickham, who resigned last year. The mayor’s son, Andy, held the post on a temporary basis but was barred from running in the election.
Billy D’Aquilla’s successful bid for re-election was his seventh in a row without opposition.
“I haven’t been opposed since I was elected in ’84, and I appreciate that,” he said. D’Aquilla also served on the town’s Board of Aldermen from 1972 to 1984.
St. Francisville aldermen elected without opposition are: Oscar Robertson Jr., James C. Davis, James Rucker Leake Jr., Robert P. Leake Jr. and Abby Temple Cochran.
West Baton Rouge Parish
In West Baton Rouge Parish, David Toups, who currently serves as mayor pro tem on the Addis Town Council, will be succeeding Carroll Bourgeois as the town’s mayor. Bourgeois decided not to seek a ninth term, and Toups drew no challengers in his bid to succeed him.
Richard “Ricky” Anderson was also unopposed in the race for Addis police chief.
Port Allen Councilwoman Ray Helen Lawrence, District 1, will not have to face any challengers for her seat on the City Council.
Pointe Coupee Parish
In Pointe Coupee Parish, Brad Joffrion will be returning as Livonia’s police chief after drawing no opponents. And according to the Secretary of State’s website, Steve A. Stelly was the only person to qualify in the constable justice of the peace race for District 5 in Pointe Coupee Parish.
In Iberville Parish, Plaquemine Mayor Mark “Tony” Gulotta returns to office for a sixth term after drawing no challengers.
Gulotta said Friday that even after 20 years, he still “likes” his job as mayor.
“We’ve done a lot but we still have a lot more work to do,” he said. “We’re in the process of building a $12 million sewer plant — that’s going to be a major project coming up. I like the big projects, but I still just like helping people.”
Among races for Plaquemine’s Board of Selectmen, Lindon Rivet in District 1, Oscar Mellion in District 2, and Timmy Martinez in District 5 are not facing challengers.
In the Village of Grosse Tete, Tommy Dardenne drew no challengers in the police chief race, and neither did Mike Sparks in the police chief race for the Village of Rosedale. Dana N. Alexander will also return to the Rosedale’s alderman Division C seat without opposition.
In Iberia Parish, New Iberia Mayor “Hilda” Curry will return to office for a third term after no one signed up to run against her in the November election.
“I’m thrilled,” Curry said in a telephone interview after the close of qualifying at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Curry said she is looking forward to continuing to work with the City Council another four years.
Curry was also elected to her second term without opposition in 2008 when her lone challenger dropped out of the race a few day after qualifying.
The mayor is prohibited under term-limit laws from seeking a fourth term.
The Capitol news bureau and Advocate reporters Richard Burgess, Joe Gyan, James Minton, Terry Jones and Bob Anderson contributed to this report.