One would hardly believe that Shreveport has an incumbent City Marshal with the number of announced candidates lining up to qualify for this race. The names in the mix as of this writing are five – Charlie Caldwell (the incumbent), Don Otis, Joey Hester and Richard Johnson. Qualifying for this post ends in August 22nd, – – so there is plenty of time for additional candidates to qualify. So far, most voters are not excited about any of these candidates.
The election really is for Ward 4, which encompasses almost all of the Shreveport voter precincts and a few split precincts. The total number of registered voters in Ward 4 are 128,514 (Shreveport has 128,356): 52.6% are black, 43.3% are white and 4.1% are other races. The primary is November 4 and the run off election will be December 6.
Voter turn out should be very heavy, as far as voter turnout goes, for the primary. There is little doubt that this race will be decided in the run off due to the number of candidates. Voter turnout could be substantively less in the runoff, depending on a large part on the U.S. Senate race and the Shreveport mayoral election.
If ever an incumbent was vulnerable to defeat in a re-election bid, Charlie Caldwell is just that. His tenure as Marshal since his 2010 election has been a public relations nightmare; his antics in his official capacity have been widely aired in the media. A full compilation of Caldwell’s questionable practices as Marshal is almost impossible to compile; a partial listing includes his 120 mph speeding ticket, his purchase of a parade Camaro that incorrectly advertises that his office participates in the D.A.R.E. program, his extravagant parties at the beach with his staff paid for under the guise of professional training, etc.
Don Otis has been announced opponent for almost a year, and he has actively been making the political rounds. Otis has also started neighborhood walks with campaign worker and posting yard signs. Caldwell’s second in command Carl Richard has been accused of harassing voters who have posted Otis campaign signs. (Richard is a candidate for the Bossier City Marshal). Otis has not generated any real excitement in the law enforcement community – which speaks for itself.
Joey Hester, a retired SPD officer, was a key supporter of Caldwell in 2010, when they both were deputy city marshals. Hester was dumped by Caldwell last year and he then announced he would be for his former boss’ job. Although the only announced white candidate in the race, Hester’s campaign has not picked up much traction. Most politicos do not think he is a serious contender.
Another former Marshal fired by Caldwell has recently jumped into the race – – Anthony Johnson (A.J.). Johnson was at one time very close to Caldwell, and frequently drove him at night to make sure that Caldwell could get home safely.
Johnson says he knows much of what needs to be corrected in the Marshal’s office and he is the man for the job. How much traction Johnson, who is black, can gain as opposed to Otis who has a long head start on him, is a big unknown.
Another potential candidate, who has all but announced for this race, is SPD Sergeant Jim Taliaferro. Until he retires, Taliaferro can not publicly declare for the race – – which is one of worst kept secrets in local political worlds. Taliaferro has very successfully heading up the Shreveport Crime Stoppers Program for many years and has a relatively high profile. The big questions posed by political watchers is if a second white candidate in the race has a chance of making the runoff. Put another
way, will two white candidates cancel each other out.
Bottom line, this election is probably Caldwell’s to lose – – beating an incumbent who inexplicably has substantial financial support is no easy task in a race that does not have much glamor appeal. Seemingly no announced, or for that matter unannounced, candidate has excited the masses. It is very likely that this election will (unfortunately) be below the radar as for a general public interest with most of the local attention on the mayoral and council races. But it is still a long time until qualifying ends on August 22nd, and more names may ultimately be in the mix.