Former mayor, parish president among names considered for interim mayor

Written by Aaron Williams on . Posted in Local

Several names have risen to the top of the list of names for possible appointees for Port Allen’s Interim Mayor position, a position that must be filled by Sunday, December 15 by the city council or it will become the decision of Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal.

Former mayor Demetric “Deedy” Slaughter was recalled in a November 16 election and vacated her office on Nov. 25. The law states that the council has 20 days to appoint an interim mayor in her absence – but in case the council cannot agree on an appointee in the allotted time, the decision will be the governor’s to make.

In an interview last week, Port Allen Councilman Hugh “Hootie” Riviere said he believes that if the 20 days passes without the council appointing an interim mayor, the governor would probably appoint a person based on suggestions from the council.

Council member and mayor pro temp, Ray Helen Lawrence, said that people throughout the city are in favor of her seeking the interim mayor position.

In an interview several weeks ago, Lawrence said she did not want the position, but said that she has, since, become somewhat open to the idea.

“I’m going to pray about it,” Lawrence said. “A lot of people have come forth… they have supported me in the past and will support me in the future.

“I’m thinking about it,” she said.

But several council members have expressed that they are not in favor of any one of the current council members filling the position.

“The council is just viewed in such a negative light,” Riviere said last week. “I would rather one of us not step up.”

Kirby Anderson, Port Allen resident who ran in last year’s November mayoral election against Slaughter and incumbent Roger Bergeron, said that he, too, was unsure if he would be willing to fill the position, though some residents desire to see him in the position.

“I have to pray on it,” Anderson said.

According to state law, the individual appointed as interim mayor forfeits his/her ability to run for the office of mayor in the following election, which will be held in April 2014.

Former Port Allen Mayor Lynn Robertson confirmed Thursday that she is willing to accept the position of the city’s interim mayor if asked by council members.

“It’s true,” Robertson said after being asked if she had been approached as a possible candidate for the interim position. “I would be uniquely qualified to do the job for a short period of time.”

Robertson served as Port Allen’s mayor from 1993-2004 and currently works as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the Port of Greater Baton Rouge Commission.

She said that she has already spoken with her supervisors and feels she can adequately give appropriate attention and time to the office of mayor of the city if given the opportunity. The Board of Commissioners for the Port of GBR meets once monthly.

Ted Denstel, who was WBR Parish president prior to 2004, said that he, too, was approached by at least one council member about the possibility of becoming interim mayor.

“I’m not seeking (to become interim mayor),” Denstel said Monday evening in a telephone interview. “But if the council thinks that I could be of service to them and I could help get the city back on track, then yes, I would do it.”

Denstel, who has lived in Port Allen for 60 years, was the city treasurer and director of public works for five years in the 1970s. He also spent several years as parish manager before being elected as parish president in 1996. He presided for two terms before current parish president Riley “PeeWee” Berthelot was elected.

In an interview last week, council member Garry Hubble said that names have been mentioned, but he believes the decision will ultimately be the governor’s to make after the December 15 deadline.

“At this point I don’t know what to tell you as far as an agreement on people,” Hubble said. “The bottom line is, when you make a vote, it should be for the betterment of the city for all of the citizens concerned.”

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