by Marion Marks
Shreveport may still need “Ruby Slippers” to click together as we address the issues a new mayor must face, but we certainly must understand those behind the curtain who believe that are pulling the strings at government plaza. This year’s mayoral race would not be complete without addressing the men and women behind the candidates who seek to convince voters Shreveport still might be “The Emerald City.”
Mayor Cedric Glover, try as he might, failed to make Shreveport the “Next Great City of the South,” as he sold it to taxpayers. But the soon-to-be 69 years-old retired school superintendent, double-dipping state legislator, entrepreneur-school teacher, and others in the poll run by KEEL will disclose those who are backing their campaigns in reports they will file with the Secretary of State. Most “backers” behind the curtain have real motivations beyond just “good government” as they seek lucrative contracts with the city,
Regardless of what we hear, none of the front runners have city council experience, Sam Jenkins aside, and the front runners will have a steep learning curve in coordinating the city council to build a cooperative relationship. The new mayor will be taking on a task that requires great stamina, infinite patience and tremendous navigational skills. It’s not going to be a 40-hour-a-week job for the weak of body or heart.
Ollie Tyler or teacher-government contractor Victoria Provenza are probably the most capable at understanding the work load as well as the volumes of documents and financials in the city records. Yet Tyler’s record with school board jobs may lead voters to question her ability to meet this task head on. Tyler will be approaching 70, not that age is really a limiting factor for many, but Tyler’s stated reason for dropping out of her previous job was related to stress and requirement for long hours of work. This will be a difficult four years for whoever is elected.
On the other hand, Provenza may have both the mental acuity as well as the energy to work with a team capable of turning the city around. Whoever the winning candidate assembles for a leadership team, voters need to be able to trust those running the city. Trust was obviously one issue Glover never seemed to be able to convey to the city council or groups with whom he had a litigious relationship. The “behind a curtain” advisors to the new mayor are not generally subject to the scrutiny of the candidates or elected officials until after they perform many of their foul deeds. In the case of those who have served in public office or have available supporter data, here is what we know.
Ollie Tyler has definite support from the Glover camp as well as the business community who encouraged her to run for mayor. Glover backers are well-known for the tenacious Glover defense they receive. Glover’s team will fight vehemently to keep business relationships they built over the last eight years. This is part of the reason many voters seek change ,just to dissolve what they think has been too much of an unhealthy relationship that lacks openness.
Patrick Williams backers are well known from his previous campaign reports through the Secretary of State. Changes in Williams most recent votes in the legislature are believed to be directly tied to campaign contributors and his decision to run for mayor. Voters should scrutinize his next SOS report prior to the mayoral election. Use this link and search: Williams, Patrick Charles dates past 2008. Those on the list with contributions of greater than $1,000 tend to be “the usual suspects.” Here is a PDF of all contributors as of last report.
Candidates require donors to get their message to voters, but when there is too much of a quid pro quo, the relationship is unhealthy. When elected official or candidate have many of the same supporters it is generally because those supporters do enough business with government that they donate to all campaigns. In itself, this is not a problem, but the thought that accepting a contribution is a guarantee for business has a bad smell.