Port Allen residents have once again decided to take a step in a different direction, as voters Richard Lee III was elected Mayor in a stunning 58 percent victory in the primary election April 5.
As early as April 15, Lee will take office to complete the remaining nearly-three years of Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter’s original four-year term. Slaughter was recalled in November 2013.
Lee will become the sixth person to hold the mayoral office in the city of Port Allen since 2011.
With more than half of the vote, many voters in the city were pleasantly surprised when Lee was named the outright winner in the election – as most political pundits expected a run-off election to occur between the top two vote-getters. Lee admitted that even he was shocked when he discovered he’d won outright, but said he was elated with the results.
“I’m still getting calls and congratulations from citizens of Port Allen,” Lee said Monday afternoon. “I was happy that the citizens of Port Allen came out to vote and voted for me as a person that they thought was going to be a good leader of the community.”
Lee said that he is thrilled to have won in the primary election, and that he is prepared to take office as he already has created a plan for progression within the city.
Lee said that the first thing he plans to do is learn the system and the employees he will be working with.
“After learning the system, I’ll have to learn my employees - how they work, what type of employees they are, and allow them to do their job,” he said. “After that, we’re going to transition into changing that negative atmosphere that we had for the past year in Port Allen. We want to do something positive for the city. And we’re working on a few things.”
Lee said that he plans to continue working on the beautification of Port Allen, adding that he believes a city that looks attractive will attract more businesses to the area.
“We want more businesses to come in, because that means more revenue,” he said.
Lee went on to say that he was planning to look into getting public transportation in the city as well.
“Some senior citizens mentioned something to me about bringing back buses so that they can commute within the city or across to our neighboring city, Baton Rouge,” Lee said. “We might look into trying to get a bus service back up to running again, or another alternative.”
He said that he also wants to do whatever is in his ability to bring summer jobs and educational programs, such as tutoring, to youths within the city to help them stay out of trouble.
“We’re looking at all those things to help us better the city.”
He said that he knows the job of mayor will not be an easy one, and said that if/when issues arrive in the city, he’s prepared to deal with any issue as a whole and consult the council members.
“I appreciate the support that the voters and the citizens of Port Allen gave me during my run for mayor. My platform was “One Port Allen” and that’s the way I’m going to run the city,” he said. “I’m going to treat everybody as equal.”
He said that he appreciated the clean campaigns the opposing candidates ran and advised each of them that his door will remain open to them and he is willing to work with everybody.
“We need everyone in the city to work together, including the candidates that ran against me, so that we can move the city forward,” said Lee.
Early Monday morning, Lee took to his Facebook.com page to thank the voters after his successful campaign, saying “I can not do this alone. It will take the whole community working together in order to reach our goal. As your leader, it will be up to me to lead this city in the right direction in hopes of becoming that great city we envision. I would love to thank each and every person whom helped me throughout this campaign, because without your help this would not have happened. Port Allen is a bruised city and with the same help and desire I received from each of you to win this Election, I will need the same desire and vision to improve this city.”
Many Port Allen residents commended Lee, and the citizens of the city, for Lee’s new position.
“Congratulations to the citizens of Port Allen and to Mr. Lee and his family & supporters. It has been a pleasure feeling united with other citizens in support of your campaign,” said Bonnie Suggs of Port Allen. “The positive energy left (no) doubt in my mind that you, Mr. Lee, would in fact be our next mayor.”
Pamela Ardoin Funderburk agreed, sending her congratulations, saying “The best candidate won! You truly will turn Port Allen around and make it a city that we, the residents, can be proud to live in, once again. Thank you for taking that chance to run and for being the kind of man that people believe in.”
Candidates have 10 days after the election to contest the results. If no contest is made, Lee can be sworn in as early as April 15.