Although most Shreveport voters are talking more about their lawn or an upcoming vacation than next year’s Shreveport Mayor’s race, the political rumor mill has ginned up as Mayor Glover’s lame duck days as mayor becomes more and more apparent. Almost every list of potential mayoral candidates includes Shreveport City Council Jeff Everson and Sam Jenkins, former mayoral candidate Roy Burrell, and State Representative Patrick Williams who opted to not oppose Glover’s re-election. A new name has recently surfaced – Maxine Sarpy who has no electoral office experience. Parker Ward, who apparently will be a perennial mayoral candidate, has also announced he will again run for mayor.
An Everson race for mayor would offer intrigue to those who debate in backrooms whether or not a white candidate could win the mayor’s seat. The first battle would be, of course, to make the inevitable run off in an election that featured at least three strong candidates. Heads up most observers believe a white candidate would have difficulty besting a black opponent in the primary when the ballot would be filled with races for the Shreveport City Council, the Shreveport Marshall and seats for the state legislature as well as Congress and the U.S. Senate. (Translation- anticipated higher voter turn out among black voters)
A December run off election with just two candidates on most ballots would certainly draw many less voters, and most definitely less in the black community. Thus, a well-funded, non controversial white candidate who could draw some black support may be electable in that scenario. A lot of “ifs”, but that is the nature of early crystal ball gazing in the political world.
To a large degree, Everson could fit that role. His fresh-scrubbed appearance and youthful enthusiasm is attractive to many voters, and his toe to toe dialogues with Mayor Glover over the proposed dog park have earned him kudos in many corners. His political connections to U.S. Senator Mary Landreau served him well in his hotly contested City Council run-off victory in 2010 and would be a positive to many voters in next year’s election.
Everson was the so-called “swing” candidate in 2010, – and his election ensured a continuation of the white majority council. Depending on the candidates running in District E, there may be two races next fall that could “swing” the Council to a first ever black majority. Everson’s 2010 race drew support from throughout the city, and no doubt a race by him in 2014 would again be a key election.
Despite the quiet hoopla for Everson, many observers believe he would fall short in the ability to amass the needed funds and the resources to build an organization for a successful mayoral campaign. Additionally his youth, while encouraging, was also seen by some as a negative. Many politicos are equally concerned about his absence from the Council. There will definitely be two new faces in the Council – Rob Webb and Joe Shyne are termed out. And if Sam Jenkins does in fact run for mayor, there will be at least three newcomers on the Council as well as a new mayor.
When asked this week as to his intentions, Everson advised that he was going to seek re-election to the Council. “I’m thankful for the encouragement that I got for a mayoral run, but I’m not naive about how challenging it would be to have made it a successful endeavor campaign wise.” Everson acknowledges that with a new mayor the returning Council will have more stature in the political landscape, – especially after the heads up battles of this Council with Glover over the dog park and Calvin Grigsby which have given the Council a new sense of independence.
Everson has a well-deserved reputation for being energetic, hard working and level headed on the Council, – and he has worked tirelessly for downtown and the neighborhoods in his district. There’s no doubt that he will be a much needed face on the 2014-2018 Council; the same can be said for Oliver Jenkins and Mike Corbin. This trio have consistently provided leadership for the Council as the new kids on the block, and the City would be well served by their returns for a second term.