A Mayoral Shift In Louisiana

The new mayor of Lake Charles took office over the weekend and residents of New Orleans will finally find out this fall who will become their next mayor.

Baton Rouge, meanwhile, saw a new mayor-president sworn in just six months ago, in January, and Lafayette experienced the same electoral shift a year prior, at the start of 2016. Plus another new mayor took her seat in Shreveport 13 months earlier, at the close of 2014.

It you’re not recognizing a pattern yet, then mentally plot these political changeovers on a map.

Lake Charles… New Orleans… Baton Rouge… Lafayette… Shreveport…

Hopefully you can visualize five of Louisiana’s six largest cities now, each representing a significant portion of the Bayou State’s beating heart. There’s fresh leadership in all of these cities today. But what’s truly impressive is that the new mayors were elected during the past two and a half years.

That's all to say that they could collectively create an important mile marker in Louisiana politics. Time will tell. We do know that together they have already replaced institutional names in their regions and individually promised new ways of governing.

This should have been a noteworthy transition of municipal power, especially given the turf covered. But the storyline has somehow slipped past the prognosticators since December 2014, when Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler succeeded former and current state Rep. Cedric Glover.

Tyler’s brief term was supposed to be marked by an outsider’s touch and influenced by someone who wasn't entrenched in the courthouse politics of yesteryear. Instead she has been burned by local editorials questioning her leadership, a defamation suit that has been dismissed and growing criticisms about crime. (The latter at least is something most modern mayors can relate to these days.)

After that former state Rep. Joel Robideaux replaced Joey Durel as mayor-president of Lafayette Parish. With a year now behind him, Robideaux is faced with a perilous budget situation and he's asking residents to help generate ideas to increase revenue.

As the only other African-American woman elected from this crop of politicos, former state Sen. Sharon Weston Broome took over the mantle of East Baton Rouge mayor-president from Kip Holden. Like many newcomers, she inherited a bit of a mess — a city plagued by racial tension, disrupted by last year’s floods and disheartened by a string of police-involved shootings.

Broome’s biggest test, however, is yet to come. With the federal government backing away from the shooting death of Alton Sterling, local and national advocates are now waiting on the state to complete its investigation. When the time comes for that final announcement, a voice of reason will be needed.

Most recently, Nic Hunter was sworn in as the new mayor of Lake Charles on July 1. He replaces longtime, popular Mayor Randy Roach, but has already made his own mark in some ways. Hunter is the first Republican ever elected mayor in Lake Charles and, at age 33, is also the second youngest politician ever elevated to the position.

Finally, there’s New Orleans, which will elect its next mayor either on the Oct. 14 ballot or, as needed, during the Nov. 18 runoff. It’s likely to be the hottest election hosted in Louisiana this year and, since it’s a city that lives in the imagination of the word, the contest should produce a touch of national press coverage.

At the Essence Festival this past weekend, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu refused to view his exit as bittersweet. "No, I'm all sweet," Landrieu said, according to The Times-Picayune.

Landrieu’s supporters may buy that line, but there will likely be a handful of candidates running against the mayor’s record this summer and fall. It’s practically formulaic. All of the new mayors elected to represent Louisiana’s largest cities over the past two and half years vowed fresh approaches.

So what’s the big picture? Are there any ties that bind? Is there a collective breeze of municipal hope flowing through Louisiana?

Right now it’s difficult to judge. A particular mayor’s impact is best gauged from the perspective of a decade or more out from their final term.

Yet from a political perspective, it’s worth pointing out that only one of these mayoral seats was turned. Hunter, a Republican, snagged a seat that was previously held by a Democrat. In doing so Hunter likewise flipped an important Louisiana city that supported both Hillary Clinton and Foster Campbell in 2016.

For donors and party faithfuls, that’s the kind of takeaway that’s definitely worthy of remembering. After all, the benches from which both parties can pull from for candidates for higher office have always been filled with mayors. And they still are; only the faces are different.

It will be interesting to learn in the coming years whether this wave of new mayors in Louisiana is creating any kind of novel policy changes or altering local governing norms. That would certainly be nice to learn — and it’s a much better topic of discussion than rehashing just more of the same, which we’ve already experienced plenty enough of in this state.

LaPolitics Weekly: Treasurer, polls, booze lawsuit, names for Jeff sheriff & more!

The LW word balloon shows we spent quite a bit of time on campaigns this week. But subscribers to LaPolitics Weekly received much more than

Sponsored: Inside The Louisiana Bar Association

With more than 22,000 lawyers across the state as members, the Louisiana Bar Association represents the full breadth of the political

POD: The World According To Billy

  SEASON 2, EPISODE 13: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BILLY Get inside the mind of Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser with this episode of The

Political Birthdays & Dates Of Note For The Week Ahead

— Tuesday 07/25: Tammy Dupuy Langlois and Shala Carlson — Wednesday 07/26: Former Rep. Jeff Arnold and Joshua Hollins — Thursday

New Orleans Politics & Elections

— Jeff Crouere’s Politics With A Punch is Thursday evening (door at 6 p.m., show at 8 p.m.) at the Eiffel Society in New Orleans. Guests:

Political Chatter Worth Tracking

— The first notable endorsement of the election season is here. The Jefferson Parish Republican Executive Committee has given an official

The Phone Call

Dig this… From Politico: “House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican nearly killed at a June congressional baseball

A Better Month For JBE

According to The AP’s Melinda Deslatte, “Gov. John Bel Edwards must be wishing that all months could be like this one.” Why is he having

Tough Month For Broome

“She made a decision on a good man, a good person, a good law enforcement officer, and it will come back to haunt her.” That was what

Today In Political History

— July 26, 1805: The term of New Orleans Mayor James Pitot ends. The third mayor to serve, Pitot is also believed to be the first American

There’s A New Sheriff In Town

What? Huh? You heard right. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, arguably one of the most popular and well-known sheriffs in Louisiana,

LaHistory: The Shortest Session Ever

  In roughly two weeks we’ll be able to give a nod to the 58th anniversary (Aug. 10, 1959) of the shortest session ever held by the

ICYMI: House Chairs Seem Set

At one point during this year’s trio of legislative sessions few knew what the future held for some of the caucus and delegation chairmen in

When Politics & Law Enforcement Collide

Louisiana has been parked at the intersection of hard-nosed politics and law enforcement controversy for an entire year. First it was a

LaPolitics Weekly: Subpoenas, Trump, EWE & The Senate President Race

Here's a look at the stories published for subscribers of LaPolitics Weekly on Thursday, July 20, 2017. Not yet part of the LaPolitics

DID YOU KNOW? 4 Fast Facts On The Legislature

1.) Members of the Louisiana Legislature were elected every two years until 1880, when voters began selecting members of the House and

Sponsored: The Walts Recipe (For Work, Life & Tacos)

The Walts Recipe (For Work, Life & Tacos) Nic Walts may have grown up surfing and playing beach volleyball in his origin state of

PODCAST: Governors & Money

SEASON 2, EPISODE 12: GOVERNORS & MONEY In her very first public interview, Allee Bautsch Grunewald explains how she became Bobby

NEW ISSUE: The Tracker Has Dropped

Good afternoon, Trackers. This is the first full week of the 2017 election cycle. If you're in one of the big races and you don't have a

Schroder Raising Money To Count Money

— If cash is king in the treasurer’s race then former Rep. John Schroder is holding the crown. With $638,000 in his campaign war chest

Six Political Takeaways

1.) ANOTHER CONTROVERSY Fox 8’s Lee Zurik: “State Police commissioner (Calvin Braxton) accused of fixing tickets, threatening trooper…

Political Birthdays For The Week (And Other Notable Dates)

— Tuesday 07/18: Rep. Tony Bacala, Margo DuBos, John DeSantis and Chris Guillory — Wednesday 07/19: Ron Faucheux, David Tatman, Keith

Notes From The Field & Political Chatter

— Gov. John Bel Edwards was in Shreveport and Monroe today to announce the award of Hazard Mitigation Grant Program dollars to several local

LaHISTORY: JFK & The Rice Festival

Since its inaugural year of 1937, the International Rice Festival in Crowley has drawn thousands of visitors to the Acadia Parish town that

Lack Of Candidates = 54% Of Ballot Settled

Even though qualifying just wrapped up last week and the primary elections will not be held for another three months, 54 percent of the