by Marion Marks
Observing political races gives voters a rush on election day, but the inevitable letdown follows those who lost or required to reboot for a run off. The Shreveport City Marshal race was a special charge of energy as four newcomers took on incumbent Charlie Caldwell, a daunting task!
Yet the incumbent record was challenged often during his first term. Caldwell, the appointed successor by Jimmie Dove, faced litigation and claims of personal improper conduct by some of his officers before he took office and throughout his first term. FOUR challengers filed to run against Caldwell!
Caldwell was sued for improper conduct while serving as an off-duty security guard at a Shreveport night club and the case settled for an undisclosed sum, at tax-payer expense. Caldwell also settled multiple cases for improper discharge of employees terminated from the marshal’s office. He also faced litigation for failure to disclose public documents and again taxpayers paid to settle that case. (One Record of litigation)
Two discharged deputies, Joey Hester and “AJ” Anthony Johnson, filed to run for marshal against Caldwell in the first primary, were outspoken during the campaign and received credible supporters and votes. Threats and recriminations from Caldwell has held employees often in fear and seems to be one reason morale is low in this city office as job security has become a motivation.
Former Shreveport Lieutenant Don Otis in the primary was among the most polite yet outspoken critics of Caldwell. On each occasion the topic would be the failure in leadership and the hypocrisy for participation in programs such as the DARE Program when not a single deputy was DARE certified. Caldwell’s DARE parade vehicle, stored at City Court, was also a sore topic during the campaign. Caldwell’s deputies tore down some Otis campaign signs.
Second place finisher Jim Taliaferro always kept his campaign positive, insisting that the changes he would initiate would always improve the performance of the marshal’s office. Caldwell garnered less than 39% of the voters, indicating tremendous disapproval of an incumbent. Taliaferro ran a straight-forward campaign, reminding voters of his successes as administrator of the Crime Stopper program, his experience in police training and administrative work with both military and local law enforcement.Taliaferro’s Crime Stoppers program won the top program internationally in 2012! He was the last candidate to announce, and many thought he waited too late and wouldn’t have a chance.
Taliaferro never shied away from confronting issues regarding dissent against the incumbent by those who sought to unseat Caldwell. Caldwell found his office in turmoil that cost taxpayers and made the business of the Shreveport City Court clouded by attorney complaints and litigation from problems stemming from City Marshal Caldwell.
Caldwell’s known problems include staff morale, business record issues, problems with bonds required in city court, officer involvement in extracurricular legal issues related to the marshal and the marshal’s use of “discretionary” funds that appear to disrespect tax payers. Caldwell has always been known for his flashy lifestyle, but when taxpayers pay for extracurricular or personal items, justified by, “it’s my right as City Marshal,” taxpayers should challenge his decisions. Caldwell bluntly states – “I wouldn’t change a thing!“
Many felt the fact that Caldwell has managed to stay out of jail as one of his greatest accomplishments. Caldwell’s Chief Deputy, Carl Richard, even after being named “Deputy of the Year” by a splinter city marshal association that is neither national nor accepted as reputable by other city marshals locally, was disgraced in the primary by his poor showing in the Bossier City Marshal’s race. Richard was handily whipped by Jim Whitman 71-29%. Richard may have his claim of endorsement of Caldwell to thank somewhat and Caldwell may soon be joining Richard on the street looking for a job.
The fact is that four non-politicians with experience in law enforcement, government process management and students of the needs of the current city marshal office determined that Caldwell needed to be replaced. I think each of them approached this campaign for the one most critically correct reason, and for that reason they have expressed a desire to support Taliaferro as the next Shreveport City Marshal.
My support is clearly for Jim Taliaferro, as I have known his work with the Crime Stopper Program for many years. Jim is honest, intelligent and capable, reason enough to place Taliaferro above Caldwell. Jim has leadership qualities Shreveporters need, and the marshal’s office will be properly run. December’s election should result in this great change for Shreveport. I agree with the four who decided to run against Charlie Caldwell – ABC (Anyone But Charlie!)