Setting the stage for what promises to be Mandeville’s biggest election fight since 2011, Mayor Donald Villere officially announced Tuesday that he intends to seek re-election for a second full term.
Villere already has one serious challenger: Rick Danielson, the at-large councilman who at times has clashed vehemently with Villere both inside and outside the council chamber.
Villere’s intentions have never been in doubt. In his announcement, he called himself a “reform mayor” and said infrastructure and cultural events in the city have improved since he was elected to fill out the remainder of Eddie Price’s term in 2011 after Price was convicted of corruption and income tax evasion. He was re-elected to a full term in 2012.
“My commitment to the citizens has been to be responsible and efficient with taxpayers’ money; communicate and deliver transparency in all of city government; improve our aesthetics, roadways, economic development, cultural opportunities; and to be a collaborative mayor,” Villere said.
The announcement marks the start of what is likely to be a bruising campaign in a small city with a high level of political intrigue and rivalry. Villere has openly feuded with Danielson and councilmen Ernest Burguières and Clay Madden. At times, those feuds have spilled into public meetings, leading to shouting and name-calling.
When Danielson announced in May his intention to run for mayor, Villere was derisive.
“Rick’s been running for mayor for sometime now,” Villere said at the time, calling Danielson “disrespectful.”
Beyond the political intrigue, several issues confront the city. Foremost among them is flood protection, a point driven home last month when heavy rains and high winds caused lake levels to rise and flood almost two blocks of Mandeville’s lakefront.
Other challenges loom. The future of the 78-acre PreStressed Concrete site, whose owners want to develop it into a commercial and residential area, is a hot topic, as is a potential renovation of City Hall.
“I reaffirm my commitment to the citizens of Mandeville to continue our progress while being mindful of our heritage,” Villere said.
Qualifying is Dec. 2-4. The election is March 5.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.