Shelton elected as new mayor for Central

The city of Central has a new mayor.

Jr. Shelton, 62, collected 59 percent of the vote to defeat his only opponent, Dave Freneaux, 54, Saturday night, according to complete but unofficial election results from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.

“It was overwhelming to have the support that we did,” Shelton said. As far as the first order of business as the new mayor, Shelton said, he wants to heal some of the divisions that the city has experienced.

“We’ve got to get the city back together again working toward common goals,” he said.

The city also has a new police chief, James Salsbury. Salsbury won the police chief race against Kerry Clark with 48 percent of the vote.

In the City Council race, 11 candidates were vying for the five at-large seats. The four candidates who won seats on the council Saturday night are Shane Evans, Kim Fralick, Wayne Messina and John Vance. Jason Ellis and Ralph Washington will be in a runoff May 3 after receiving more votes than June Dupuy, Eric Frank, Mike Gardner, Aaron Moak and Harry Rauls.

The two Republican candidates for Central mayor both say economic development is crucial to the future of the city.

Shelton and Freneaux were the lone candidates battling for the seat held by Central Mayor Shelton “Mac” Watts, the city’s only mayor since it was incorporated in 2005.

Saturday’s election marks the first time Freneaux, the co-owner of a transportation business and the founder of a weekly newspaper, has run for office.

“I said going in that the only thing that would surprise me is if either got more than 60 percent,” Freneaux said. Although disappointed by the loss, he said he’s been involved in working for a better Central for years, and that will continue.

Shelton, a Realtor with C.J. Brown, ran unsuccessfully against Watts for the seat four years ago.

The size of the Central City Council was an issue in Saturday’s mayoral race.

Both men said the council should switch from five at-large seats to five district seats so representation will come from all parts of the city.

But Freneaux has said city government shouldn’t expand and there should be no more than five council members.

But Shelton said there should be five district seats as well as two at-large seats, bringing the total number of City Council seats to seven.

Freneaux has criticized Shelton for trying to expand the council, but Shelton said the configuration he is proposing would help prevent the five district members from making political power plays for their areas. He also said the seven members would allow council members to break off into committees to research and discuss city issues before they are voted on at council meetings.

In 2012, the seven-seat council was approved by the City Council, but it was vetoed by Watts.

Both Freneaux and Shelton said addressing the city’s infrastructure needs, including drainage and road maintenance, is another important challenge facing the city’s next mayor.