Walker voters soon will decide who will fill the final two seats on the City Council.
The election is Nov. 8, with early voting beginning Oct. 25.
Mayor-elect Jimmy Watson, who currently serves as a Livingston Parish School Board member, won the city’s top post when no one signed up to oppose him this fall.
He will be joined in city government by at-large council members Scarlett Milton Major and Richard Wales and District 3 Councilman Gary Griffin, all of whom went unopposed in the first election since the five-member City Council was divided into three districts, with two at-large representatives.
Three candidates are seeking the District 1 seat: Interim Councilman Eric Cook, who was appointed to the council in January; former mayor Bobby Font; and political newcomer Marc Rager.
Cook, 46, a Democrat and lifelong Walker resident, was appointed to the council on Jan. 11 to replace Tracy Girlinghouse, who had been elected to the Parish Council.
Cook could not be reached for comment for this story.
After his appointment in January, Cook said he was looking forward to serving the city and making it a better place for his fellow residents. He is married with three sons.
Font, 58 and a Republican, retired from the Baton Rouge Police Department in 2002 after 28 years on the job. He then worked for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office for five years before a successful campaign to become mayor of Walker in 2008. He sought re-election in 2012 and lost to Rick Ramsey by 40 votes.
Font, who is married and has four daughters and six grandchildren, said he is running for a seat on the council because he is concerned about the direction the city is heading, but he was not interested in serving as mayor again.
“I guess I’m one of the few that enjoy trying to solve problems with no money,” he said. “I’m a part of this community, and all of my daughters still live close. My grandbabies are close. So I have a concern.”
Font said his concerns include the city budget and the possible economic fallout of August’s flooding, as well as ongoing traffic problems as roundabouts are installed at Interstate 12 but the overpass remains only two lanes.
“Not that we’re necessarily headed in the wrong direction, but if good decisions are not made in the next few years, we could head in the wrong place,” he said.
Rager, 58 and a Republican, also listed traffic as one of his top concerns in running for a council seat.
“It’s slow in progress, and traffic is really bad right now because of the situation going on in Denham Springs with many of those businesses not open and those folks coming to Walker,” Rager said. “We just need to hurry with some of these projects.”
Rager, who works as a salesman for Coburn’s Plumbing Supply, said drainage also would be a priority, as well as strengthening the city’s police force.
“We just built a 160-unit complex inside city limits, which conservatively will bring at least 320 new residents,” he said. “And I don’t think the force is fully equipped now. We’re already short on full-time and part-time manpower. I want to help make sure they have all the means necessary to protect our citizens.”
Rager, married with a blended family of six children and 13 grandchildren, said he moved into the city from the Meadows subdivision four years ago to have a voice in the community where his family’s children go to school and where they attend church.
“I prayed about it with my wife, and God led us to believe we should move inside the city limits, not only to have a voice but to run for council and be a voice,” he said.
Vying for the District 2 council seat are Walker Freshman High School Principal David Clark and Our Lady of the Lake nurse Katrina Keller-Perkins. Both are lifelong residents of the city and political newcomers.
Clark, 45, a Republican and a married father of one, said his chosen career of education is a core component of any community.
“I love working with the students and feel as though we are helping to create a sense of community within them that will one day also carry into our community at large,” he said. “I see the opportunity to serve on the council as a continuation of that call to serve, care for and build a community we can all love and be proud of.”
A 17-year veteran educator, Clark said his certification in social studies has helped to expand his understanding of history — and interest he has held since early childhood — and government.
Having grown up in the middle of town, right by the old football field, Clark has watched as Walker continues to grow and change. His primary goal, he said, is to “bring thoughtful, reasonable leadership to the citizens of Walker in an effort to provide expected services for our current needs as well as being proactive to those of the future.”
Keller-Perkins, 44 and a Democrat, founded the Triangle of Love senior citizens program and Extraordinary Girls mentorship program, both in Walker, and owned Infinity Personal Care before going to work as a nurse in 2008.
A married mother of two children, Keller-Perkins said she is running for a seat on the council in order to help her city continue to improve.
“I really have a heart and love for my community and the citizens as well,” she said.
Keller-Perkins said she strongly supports law enforcement and its efforts to keep the community safe, and she intends to help improve development for the city’s youth, which she cites as a major concern.
“We need some development for them to help provide them with something to do,” she said. “We don’t have any type of gym or what-have-you where they’re at liberty or for sports. I would also like to see some different programs instituted, as far as tutorial, and something for the senior citizens as well, so they don’t have to commute to Denham Springs.”