On Saturday, December 8, voters in Port Allen will decide which direction they want the city to move.
The city’s mayoral run-off election between incumbent Roger Bergeron, who served as the city’s mayor for the past year, and challenger Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter, who was the top vote-getter in the November 6 election with 46.45% of the vote, will allow voters to make their final decision on who will be the city’s leader for the next four years.
Bergeron, who received 38.76% of votes in the November 6 election, said that he was not surprised by the numbers in the first election and expected there to be a run-off. He said that he is optimistic that his supporters will vote in full force.
“This time, because it’s just two candidates, we have been able to focus more on the issues and the qualifications and just get that message out,” Bergeron said. “I’m confident that if people take the time to examine those two things, then we’re going to be OK.”
Bergeron said that his business administration degree in accounting and the positions he’s held throughout his career make him a strong candidate.
Bergeron spent 16 years with the Louisiana Department of Revenue and 18 years with West Baton Rogue Parish. He was also named the first executive director of the Louisiana Association of Tax Administrators. He spent the last year as Port Allen’s mayor.
“My work history speaks for itself in terms of competency and getting the job done.
I think I have a track record, albeit just a year,” he said. “And I think we’ve accomplished some significant things, also, in that one year.”
Bergeron said that in his year as mayor, marked improvements in infrastructure have been made and the city’s administration put forth a balanced budget.
“I think the thing I’m most proud of is how we handled the Hurricane Isaac situation,” he said. “We were able to address pre-storm concerns and we got the debris picked up quickly and we’re going to be able to recover most of our expenses in that process.”
Slaughter said that though she led the mayoral race in the November 6 election, she has continued to go door-to-door and speak with voters about their concerns within the city, and plans to continue to do so until the day of the election.
“According to the polls and the way the way the voters came out (in November) show I have momentum, but you always have to look at it as though you’re behind and just push a little harder, and that’s what we’re doing,” she said. “These last couple of days we’re just going to push a little harder.”
Slaughter said that the key to winning this run-off election will simply be getting voters to the polls.
“We are going back to [voters] door to door, encouraging them to get out,” she said. “If everyone feels the way [many I’ve spoke to] feel, they know the city’s at stake and they want to see the city move forward; I believe they’ll come out and vote.”
Slaughter, an ExxonMobil analyst, said that her business degree and her background working in the business area make her a good mayoral candidate, as well as her heart and passion for the people of Port Allen.
“What has been said and the way that the community has been feeling, people just want integrity, honesty and fairness,” Slaughter said. “Those are some of my characteristics”
She said that she simply wants to see the city move forward into its potential, which she believes is great.
“Everybody’s ready for Port Allen to move forward, and I am too,” she said. “I’ve spent 50 years here, I’m ready to see some positive things happen for this city.”
Slaughter said that if she wins the election, she plans to look at the city’s budget, get an audit done and find where the city’s main sources of revenue are.
She said she plans to pull more resources for grants to bring even more resources into the city for jobs and sources of revenue for the city.
She said that though the city may not be in great financial shape presently, “there are ways that that can be worked. It may be an obstacle, but there are ways that can be worked.”
“A lot of people are saying they need jobs. I want to be able to work with “Pee Wee” Berthelot with the parish, see if we can come together and just move Port Allen forward.”
She said that she plans to work closely with the police department to make the city as closely knit as possible. She also said she plans to reach out to successful area mayors whom have had issues similar to Port Allen to find out what they did to get their cities to be productive.
Bergeron said that he realizes that the city has financial issues, and said that he feels he is best equipped to handle them “because that’s what I’ve dealt with most of my career.”
He said that aside from the financial woes, the city is also facing intangible issues.
“The intangible issues, in my mind, go back to community unity,” he said adding that one of his goals as mayor is to “try to bring us together, to try to think of us as one community.”
Bergeron said that no matter what happens Saturday, leading Port Allen as mayor has been an honor and a great experience for him.
“Regardless of the outcome, it’s been a singular honor and a privilege to have served as the people’s servant for this one year,” he said.