The latest scuttlebutt on Shreveport’s upcoming mayoral race is that Ollie Tyler may enter this fall’s election – at the urging of current Mayor Cedric Glover. The Glover team lead by Lynn Braggs had previously pushed Councilman Sam Jenkins to be the standard bearer until Jenkins unpaid taxes became common knowledge. How long Tyler will curry favor as a potential candidate will depend in large part on several factors.
The first will be not only how well her public education background will be remembered, but also how it perceived as meaningful to any mayoral aspirations. An educator for more than forty years, Tyler served as the Caddo School Superintendent, and then as an administrator with the Louisiana Department of Education, including a stint as the acting Superintendent. Public education in both Caddo Parish and Louisiana has never been a cause for celebration, and thus any claim to fame on that basis by Tyler will probably fall on deaf ears.
A second and equally important issue will be her age and health. Tyler is sixty nine, and she
resigned her last position due to several health issues. Reportedly she has had several eye surgeries since her resignation. Whether or not she will have the physical stamina to conduct an arduous six month plus campaign is an open issue. And then there is the job itself as mayor – – which no one expects to be a walk in the park after eight years of a flat line performance by Big G. Tyler’s past public service has been to appointed positions – far removed from the voter on the street. How well she can interact with voters on the campaign trail is a major unknown, as well as her ability to carry out what will no doubt be a demanding four year term of office.
Tyler can also expect close background scrutiny if she decides to become a candidate – starting with the death of a prior husband. There are also rumors of an illicit relationship with a Caddo student that surfaced during her superintendent tenure. Whether meritorious or not, these smoldering embers from her past provide ammunition for political muck-rakers to fan during a race.
Bottomline, it is very unlikely a Tyler candidacy will generate any real traction among Shreveport voters, and for good reason. She has been out of the local spotlight since 2007, and public education did not make any real positive gains during her leadership as superintendent. (And in fact many believe that her public education background is more a negative than a positive with the current discontent with Caddo public education.) Tyler has never run in a contested campaign, and her mayoral candidacy will be perceived as another attempted political power play, much like the early rumors of a Maxine Sarpy campaign.
Shreveport has now had a female mayor (Hazel Beaird) and a black mayor (Cedric Glover). The novelty of a “minority” mayor has lost it’s glamour and an Ollie Tyler mayoral candidacy will most likely be an ill fated as C. O. Simpkins sad campaign for the City Council in 2010. Much like Sarpy and Sam Jenkins, an effort to recruit Ollie Tyler to run to Mayor will likely be just another flash in the pan. The real question is who will be the next poster child of backroom political power brokers pushing their own agenda in the fall mayor’s race.