Central forum shows similarities in council candidates, intensity in mayoral race

Photo provided by staff
Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 11:14pm

Voters in Central are starting to get a sense of their options.

The Republican Women of Central brought most of the candidates for local office to a forum at Central High School Monday night.

Dave Freneaux and Jr. Shelton are running to replace Mac Watts as Central's mayor. Shelton had a private fundraiser scheduled, and did not attend the forum. While candidates were told not to use negative language or speak about their opponents, Freneaux attacked Shelton's record.

"I am the only candidate who opposes bigger government," he told the crowd. "I am the only candidate who is not a political insider. I am the only mayoral candidate whose family business has succeeded under his leadership." He went on to say that he, unlike Shelton, supported both the creation of an independent school district and the incorporation of Central.

After the forum, Freneaux maintained that was not overstepping his bounds by talking about the differences between himself and Shelton.

"It is not personal for me," he stated. "This is about what's best for the city of Central. There isn't anything personal in this; I won't get personal in this election." 

In the race for police chief, Kerry Clark said he wants the job, but not a full police department.

"If later down the road, someone were to suggest we wanted a full-time law enforcement agency, we're talking about financing that," Clark warned. "Police departments cost money, they cost lots of money."

Clark, a retired long-time member of the Baton Rouge Police Department, said he would not speak ill of his opponent, James Salsbury, who did not attend the forum. When asked to illuminate the differences between them, Clark described himself as more experienced, with a more extensive managerial background.

Nine of the eleven people in the race for city council were on the stage Monday. They were nearly unanimous in suggesting that Central's biggest issues in the next four years will be attracting new businesses and fixing the city's drainage and infrastructure. Several of them also said they wanted to end one of the council's biggest problems: its attitude.

"We have got to bring this community together as a unit," June Dupuy said.

"And I can tell you, I've met a lot of the candidates for council, and you could do a lot worse than them," Shane Evans added. "there's some good folks behind me, make no mistake. And I get to vote for four other people besides me, as well."

Voters have until March 4, 2014 to register for the election, which will take place April 5, 2014.

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