by Marion Marks
Tomorrow Shreveport and Caddo citizens vote to elect officials for mayor, city council, city marshal and other important offices, and most of the screaming, shouting and abundant deafening noise for the cycle will be behind us (until the run offs). So where are we in determining who might lead us “through the valley,” so to speak?
It’s not a clear answer, and even the Shreveport Times has chosen to not endorse a single candidate for readers. I liken it to the fact that, up until now, we have been paddling around in the shallow water near the bank, but are about to have to tread the deep water with a storm on the horizon. We need to pull up the hip waders and slog through muddy water, AND VOTE!
I feel like the school teacher who has to assist all the students by grading on a curve and throwing out some of the tough questions that no one got right. The problem is integrity, basic knowledge and common sense are core values from which we have a hard time deviating in accepting a leader who lacks them.
So let’s start with integrity of those from whom we must chose. The mayoral candidates did give us some information from interviews, forums and actual facts we can document. Questions are raised regarding shortcomings established as of today. Major candidates viewed first, we can document the following:
Victoria Provenza has been clearly untruthful concerning her resume when confronted by KTBS, and her stated experience has been embellished far beyond the facts known of her work record. Regardless of her degree in geology, her contacts in the business world and her ability to converse with “the rich and powerful,” KTBS established that “Bon Bons” do not sell well in Shreveport for experience and success needed to be mayor. Provenza’s divorce record and claims of mental competency have mostly been fodder of a high-profile divorce from a powerful man, however any “breakdown” due to the race or the disclosures of her resume may once again cause questions. Fits of any sort visible to the media or workers documented will certainly come back to haunt her, if she makes the run off. Inquisitor aside, the campaign is flawed.
Patrick Williams’ ability to handle finances, both personal and state expenses-campaign funds is fraught with “double-dip” fiascos and loans/contributions that show distrust for laws and refusal to address known violations in an ethical manner. As one long-time political observer noted, “He is a serial offender, like so many politicians who is working the system for the money.” It has been suggested by the Times and many others that Patrick Williams was deeply hurt by the bungled work of many ardent supporters. From poor advice, poor records management and efforts that appear to be attempts to buy influence or power, they painted Williams in a desperate corner when facts were revealed.
Ollie Tyler was a classic political candidate who followed the advice of her handlers as long as she could. The finance report issues, although minor in many respects, were improper and showed poor judgement. Then the media insisted Tyler address the real questions regarding her personal life that have dogger her for years, and the truth about the shooting of her first husband by Tyler’s own hand. The police report and interviews only raised more serious questions. And. since the apparent willingness to withhold facts from the public makes voters more uneasy, as words in the report and the interviews keep pointing to “Homicide” or “Murder” rather than the easier to sell, “spousal abuse” version. The differences between spousal abuse and murder have been the subject of hot discussion in the black community since the Times story and police report were made public.
Sam Jenkins certainly has the best record working within city government on the city council and demanding transparency for city contracts others have tried to cover up. However, his personal tax problems and the way the current mayor and supporters dropped Jenkins continue to cause problems for voters. Those who know Jenkins and like him personally remain troubled.
Anna Marie Arpino, who I probably unfair in called “The Angry Accountant” has exaggerated her experience both in city government and educational work. She zinged Ollie Tyler on her actual “CEO” and financial management skills, but Arpino has even marginalized herself by the manner she campaigned. Arpino does get high marks for trying to participate and her engagement in the election process.
Melvin “Legal Marijuana” Slack also marginalized himself, but commendations to him for adding comic relief to the campaign. Every election needs more of levity, as the other actors seem so bad at times.
Jim Crowley also, at best, was a marginal detraction because his “on again, off again” participation in the process was a joke to all who paid attention to his decisions and comments. Crowley’s best line was the night of the first televised forum as he said he was quitting! Crowley provided additional entertainment when he showed up after his original departure, as he also added comic relief.
So, in the deep water before Election Tuesday, we still must find a mayor to succeed Cedric Glover, who certainly will give the city relief as he “Takes it to the house.” My feeling, similar to The Times, is “good luck voters choosing among the seven.”
Fortunately we have a run off and a little more time to vet the remaining two in the field. Perhaps we will allow them to wipe some of their own slate clean, and just say, “Now that we know there is mud on your face, show us what you really have to offer.”