Baker looks to elect new Mayor, Chief of Police as incumbents not seeking re-election _lowres

Darnell "DA-1" Waites

Darnell “DA-1” Waites, a top official in Baker, will become the city’s next mayor, succeeding retiring Mayor Harold Rideau.

Waites on Saturday defeated Leroy Davis, who served as mayor for three years before Rideau. Waites took 61 percent of the 2,594 ballots cast in the mayoral election.

Economic development played a central role in the election for both candidates, with much of the talk during the campaign focused on the need to spur business growth in Baker. The candidates, too, focused on the state of the city’s finances.

Waites, 55, is the current president of the Baker Area Chamber of Commerce and has worked the past three years as the administrative officer in the mayor’s office for Rideau, who endorse him in the race.

Both candidates are Democrats.

During the campaign, Waites emphasized his deep involvement in city government, saying that will be a benefit if he becomes mayor. He pledged to see through plans started during Rideau’s administration.

Davis, 71, previously served as Baker mayor from 2001 to 2004. Davis, an adjunct economics professor at Southern University and Upper Iowa University, campaigned on a platform of cleaning up financial problems in city government and pointing to declining cash reserves since he left office.

The two candidates disagreed over the extent of the city’s budget difficulties. Waites previously told The Advocate procedural issues with how money is managed has caused problems but that the retirement of older, high-paid workers has put the city on stronger footing, with city’s budget steadily improving over the past three years.

Both candidates pledged that they would focus attracting new businesses and retailers to the city.

Voters also elected three council members to join the two members — Brenda Jackson and Charles Vincent — elected last month. District 2 incumbent Pete Heine was elected over Cleveland Thomas, while Baker School Board member Doris Alexander defeated incumbent Robert Young in District 4. Glenda Bryant defeated Troy Watson for the open District 3 seat.

Follow Bryn Stole on Twitter, @BrynStole.