2 in face off for Port Allen mayor

Voters deciding who will serve as Port Allen mayor for the next four years have a choice on the Dec. 8 election ballot between the incumbent and one of his challengers in a previous mayoral election a year ago.

Mayor Roger Bergeron, a Democrat, is once again opposed by Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter, also a Democrat, in next month’s runoff election. Bergeron narrowly defeated Slaughter, a 50-year-old ExxonMobil analyst, during a special runoff election for Port Allen mayor Nov. 19, 2011.

According to results posted by the Secretary of State’s Office, Bergeron, a 64-year-old retired revenue director for West Baton Rouge Parish, defeated Slaughter by 17 votes in that election.

But it’s Slaughter who heads into December’s runoff with momentum after becoming the top vote-getter in the three-candidate Nov. 6 primary election. Slaughter received 1,473 votes, or 46 percent, to Bergeron’s 1,229 votes, or 38 percent, a winning margin of 244 votes, according to election results.

Retired educator Kirby Anderson, 57, was squeezed out of the three-way race after picking up 14 percent, or 469 votes, in the primary election.

Bergeron said he remains positive about his upcoming showdown with Slaughter.

The mayor is asking voters to consider re-electing him on the basis of his year-long track record as mayor coupled with his 18 years of prior service as West Baton Rouge Parish revenue director, his 16 years with the Louisiana Department of Revenue, as well as his appointive term on the Port Allen City Council.

“If the voters stop and think, look and examine things, they’ll see the distinct difference between myself and my opponent,” Bergeron said. “I do have a record to stand on.”

Slaughter said she wants to bring integrity back into the city.

She said Bergeron has made too many negative decisions, such as his recent hiring of Adrian Genre as the city’s chief administrative officer.

Black community leaders accused Bergeron of racism after he recommended Genre for the CAO position.

Residents also criticized the mayor’s friendship with Genre, asserting it influenced his decision to present Genre to the City Council for appointment.

Bergeron has denied such claims.

Genre’s appointment was controversial because he is a convicted felon who pleaded guilty while still police chief to perjuring himself in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the Police Department.

Genre admitted to lying in a deposition about the department’s hiring practices in a lawsuit that claimed only black people were given a written test during the Police Department’s interview process. He was forced to resign as chief in August 2000.

“I have gone door-to-door and heard white (voters) tell me they just want someone fair; we want fairness,” Slaughter said. “People are tired and frustrated.”

Bergeron recently criticized Slaughter for declining an offer to meet him in a mayoral debate the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce was willing to host before the runoff election.

“That speaks volumes to me,” Bergeron said. “If a candidate is not willing to take the time to come before the people to express their ideas, voters should be concerned by that.”

Slaughter replied that she declined the chamber’s invitation to the debate with Bergeron because she had previous commitments.

“We tried to do something of that nature before the primaries, but no one wanted to do anything,” Slaughter said. “Now we’re at crunch time and I have meetings and agendas already planned. I’m trying to stay focused to meet those obligations.”