Challenger Layton Ricks forced incumbent Livingston Parish President Mike Grimmer into a runoff Saturday.

Grimmer led the three-man field with 45 percent of the vote, according to complete but unofficial returns provided by Livingston Parish Clerk of Court Tom Sullivan.

Ricks had 40 percent and Donald Burgess had 15 percent.

In his quest for a third term, Grimmer led Ricks by 1,648 votes. Grimmer tallied 14,865 votes to 13,217 for Ricks and 4,909 for Burgess.

“This parish needs to come to North Park and have a debate, not one of these socials like we’ve been having,” Grimmer said of forums in which candidates have participated.

“It’s about who can lead the parish and who can’t,” he said.

Grimmer said he has tried to keep the campaign clean, but added that he thinks he needs to “start laying the facts out there.”

Ricks, asked to comment on forcing the runoff, said: “I certainly think the voters are ready for a change in this parish, and I think that’s what the voters said tonight.

“We’re excited about the outcome and we expect to win in the runoff,” he said.

“We certainly hope Mr. Burgess and his supporters will support us in the runoff,” Ricks said.

“I’m disappointed, but we gave it our all,” Burgess said.

When asked if he will support a candidate in the runoff, Burgess said he will have to think about it.

Grimmer, who has battled a majority of the council over roads and hurricane debris cleanup, said he is pleased with the way the Livingston Parish Council races turned out.

All nine council seats had multiple candidates in Saturday’s election. Of the six council members who most often opposed Grimmer’s measures, only Ronnie Sharp won re-election.

Grimmer’s two strongest supporters, Marshal Harris and Cindy Wale, won re-election.

Grimmer questioned the propriety of some cleanup work after Hurricane Gustav. He angered some council members after halting the cleanup and refusing to accept and disburse federal payments until the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the work.

He also battled a number of council members over paving of gravel roads and his use of road tax money to pay workers from the parish Department of Public Works.