Port Allen celebrates inauguration of new mayor Richard Lee III
POSTED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 9:00am
Port Allen, LA (NBC33) — Port Allen believes the third time is the charm.
Mayor Richard Lee III was sworn into office Tuesday night. He is Port Allen's third mayor in the last six months.
He was elected on April 5 with 58 percent of the vote. Wednesday was the first possible day in which he could have taken office.
Lee spent the week as mayor-elect meeting with interim mayor Lynn Robertson and members of the city council, and he claimed he learned a lot from those meetings.
"We can work together. We don't have to go in different directions," he said. "And in order to resolve issues in the city, we have to come together as one."
A good relationship between mayor and council was often missing when Deedy Slaughter was in office. Voters recalled her last November after 11 months in charge, in part due to racist and political divisions that festered within the city. She ran again to reclaim her position, but finished a distant second to Lee.
Wednesday, the council chamber was packed with people anxious for Lee to take his turn as the city's leader.
"It was a diverse crowd, it was all of Port Allen," Lee noted. "And with the support I got, I think we're going to move the city forward in a positive direction."
Forward was a word heard often Wednesday night, both at the swearing-in ceremony and at a reception that followed. Lee's supporters believe he has the character to change the city's reputation as a place where the government does not get much done.
"He's going to bring to the job as mayor just what he brought to the neighborhood: integrity, trust, and oneness," said Lisa Snearl, whose hair salon is near Lee's home.
"He's a really fair man," Shirley Hayes added. "I think he's going to be really about the business that is at hand, and I think he's the type of person that takes charge."
Robertson, who was also mayor from 1993-2004, made progress during her nearly-five months in office. While furthering the spirit of cooperation tops his agenda, there are other things people want Lee to improve.
"Like the infrastructure," Snearl mentioned, "like the traffic that's consistently growing from Brusly to Port Allen."
"Every year, different neighboring parishes have festivals, and I want to see some of that," Hayes suggested, "something that's going to help put Port Allen on the map."
Lee mentioned that improving the climate for local business will be one of his early priorities, but he wants to hear residents' opinions. He said his theme of unity involves the people as much as it does the council.
"It's very important, because we want to do whatever for the city, we want to do it as a whole," he stated. "Include everybody, and that's the key."