Central to Elect New Mayor, Chief, City Council
Two former Baton Rougeans who were star athletes in the 1960’s moved to Central more than 30 years ago. This Saturday, both are likely to be elected by Central voters as new city officials. The once sleepy rural community of Central is now Louisiana’s 12th largest city with a population of 27,000 and one of the state’s premier school systems.
In Saturday’s election, voters will choose a new mayor and new police chief, because the incumbents are not seeking reelection. They will also elect five members of the City Council. Jr. Shelton still stands 6’7,” just as he did as an All-State center on the Broadmoor High School basketball team in the 1960’s. But now
Shelton is the leading candidate for Mayor of Central to replace incumbent Mac Watts, who is not running for reelection. When Shelton was at Broadmoor, he averaged 17 points and 18 rebounds a game. His archrival was the Baton Rouge High basketball team and its star center, Little Apple Sanders.
Today Shelton is a realtor. But for years, he led Shel-Boze, a lighting and appliances company on Wooddale. He still loves basketball but now he is more concerned about finding a balanced approach to Central’s residential, retail, and commercial development and meeting the day-to-day needs of Central’s growing population.
Wayne Messina, who was a basketball and track star at Istrouma High School in the early 1960’s, served as a teacher, coach, and principal in East Baton Rouge Parish schools. Today he is head of security for the EBR School System.
Four years ago, Messina was elected to one of five seats on the Central City Council. On Saturday, he is favored to be reelected to the City Council.Whoever is elected will inherit a city government which could be a model for cities across the nation. With a budget of $6.3 million, Central runs a surplus of more than $1.5 million a year. It has an accumulated surplus of $20 million and has no bonded indebtedness.
This fiscal blessing is in large part due to the city fathers’ decision to do something unique in Louisiana — privatize an entire city government. Today the City of Central is managed by a non-profit organization, IBTS. The city itself has only three city employees. Compare the City of Hammond with a populationof 20,000, an annual budget of $30 million, and 325 employees.
Other city officials not seeking reelection Saturday are Police Chief Doug Browning, and Councilmen Tony LoBue and Louis DeJohn. A runoff in the Council races will be held May 3 if necessary.
New city officials will take office July 1. Candidates for Mayor are Jr. Shelton and Dave Freneaux. Running for Police Chief are Kerry Clark and James Salsbury.
Eleven candidates are seeking five seats on the Council. Interest in the election is high, and political signs have sprung up throughout the city. Voter turnout
could exceed 50 percent, depending on weather.
Central Mayor Pro-Tem Ralph Washington is back on the campaign trail after diabetes put him in the hospital. Tuesday Washington said he is feeling much better and expects to be at full speed soon.
Washington said he has had circulatory problems in his legs but those were resolved with a treatment that cleared his arteries. At one point, doctors had discussed amputating a toe but that ended up not being necessary, he said.
“Thanks to a lot of prayer by the people of Central and my family, I have recovered, and I am feeling good,” he said. “I am excited about serving the people of Central for the next four years, and I would greatly appreciate your vote and support in the election this Saturday.”
Besides Messina and Washington, the other incumbent Councilman seeking reelection is Aaron Moak.
Messina, who narrowly lost a race for the Metro Council against Scott Wilson in 2008, was first elected to the Central City Council in 2010.
In this election, Messina is putting up his own traditional campaign signs. But he is also putting out signs that say, “Drive Like Your Children Live Here” in an effort to remind drivers of the dangerous conditions of many of Central’s roads.
Councilman Messina will be hosting an election night party at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Greenwell Springs Road.
Councilman Aaron Moak was campaigning with his two boys last Saturday.
Dr. Kim Fralick is running a strong race for the Central City Council. If elected, she would be the first woman on the Council since Joan Lansing who served from 2006 to 2010.
Council candidate Shane Evans has held an event called “Grillin’ the Candidates,” every Saturday morning at Central Perk from qualifying through the election. Citizens and a number of candidates have attended to ask questions and exchange ideas.
In years past, Central voters were used to voting in at-large elections. At-large elections were held for state senator, state representative, Metro Council, and school board. However, today the only at-large race of any type that Central votes on is the Central City Council.
Voters will cast up to five votes for City Council. Eleven candidates are running. In order to be elected in the April 5 primary, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast and be one of the top five vote-getters.
It is possible for a candidate to get a majority of the votes cast and still lose. Intuitively, that doesn’t seem possible, but it assuredly is.
For example, in the March 29, 2010, primary, Councilwoman Joan Lansing received 52.5 percent of the votes cast but lost because she ran 6th in the balloting.
If fewer than five candidates receive a majority in the primary, there will be a runoff election on Saturday, May 3.
The runoff will include twice the number of candidates as unfilled seats remaining. For example, if three candidates are elected to the City Council on April 5, the runoff will be for the two remaining seats. So the next four candidates will
participate in the runoff election.
In the primary, voters can vote five candidates for the City Council but they may also vote for fewer than five. The voting machine will not allow you to vote for more than five candidates.
All of the candidates running in this election are Republicans.
The Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish has endorsed Jr. Shelton for Mayor, James Salsbury for Chief of Police, and six candidates for the City Council — Shane Evans, Dr. Kim Fralick, Wayne Messina, Harry Rauls, John Vance, and Ralph Washington.
In addition to the Republican Party, Mayoral candidate Jr. Shelton has been endorsed by the Homebuilders and by the Realtors association.
His opponent, Dave Freneaux, has been endorsed by Central Speaks, the paper he founded which is currently owned by his daughter; Wayne Leader, and Sid Edwards.
Here are some of the election day activities planned in Central this Saturday:
Saturday, April 5
6 a.m – 8 p.m.
Vote for Mayor, Police Chief, City Council members and on BREC tax.
Saturday, April 5
Campaign Victory Parties
Jr. Shelton Victory Party. Palubinska’s Event Center (Old Starkey Gym on Joor Rd.) 7 p.m. until. All of Central is invited.
Kerry Clark welcomes friends and supporters to his home starting at 5 p.m. at 16003 Chaumont Ave., Greenwell Springs.
Shane Evans and James Salsbury will host a Campaign Party at the American Farmhouse Grill, 9550 Hooper Rd. at 7 p.m.
Kim Fralick Campaign Party. 10403 Joor Road 7 p.m until. Please RSVP at 225-324-6634 or email@example.com.
For coverage of the Central elections, go to Central City News on Facebook.com.