Incumbent Mayor John Shaddinger and Joe Peoples, a civilian Police Department employee and volunteer firefighter, will square off in a runoff April 29 to be the next mayor of Westwego. Both are Democrats.
Also on the ballot are runoffs for two City Council seats.
Shaddinger, 66, got the most votes in the March 25 primary, pulling in 44 percent to Peoples’ 33 percent. But turnout and the battle for the 23 percent who voted for former City Councilman Ted Munch will determine the outcome.
“I'm out working the streets everyday,” Peoples said. “And 56 percent of the people voted against the current mayor. He likes to turn it around and say he almost won it, but 'almost' only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”
Peoples, 55, said he feels confident that Munch’s supporters will vote for him, noting that he has Munch’s endorsement, along with the endorsements of Police Chief Dwayne Munch — who is Ted’s cousin — and outgoing District 5 Councilman Larry Warino.
Dwayne Munch released a statement on his endorsement, saying the city hasn't been moving forward under Shaddinger's stewardship.
“The one thing that all these people have in common is they've had to work with the current mayor, and he just can't get the job done,” Peoples said.
Westwego’s mayoral race features a rematch between two candidates who have squared off twice…
Shaddinger’s opponents charge that the city has lost out on state and federal funding under his watch, specifically funds to repair the city’s fire hydrants.
The mayor, however, says the money wasn't “lost” and can be secured again when the project is shovel-ready. "They don’t know the rules. They don’t know the process you have to go through," he said. "We have not lost one single dime.”
He said the fact that money for hydrant repairs was even on the table was due to his office.
Shaddinger touts a number of newly completed and upcoming projects, including a $3.4 million, 13,000-square-foot City Hall that opened late last year and the new $1.6 million water tank and transfer pumps. Work could begin soon on an overhaul of the water treatment plant, a $4.1 million fire and Emergency Medical Services station and a $1.1 million Emergency Operations Center.
"This business about the city not moving forward is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life," he said. "Even if you don't want to give me any credit for all the things that happened while I was mayor, to say the city is not moving forward … it’s delusional.”
Shaddinger is at the end of his first full term as mayor but served almost all of the prior term, taking over when former Mayor Robert Billiot was elected to the state House of Representatives.
Peoples has pledged to improve the efficiency of city government, saying he would spend money more wisely and use the existing city workforce to tackle quality-of-life issues, clean up parks and bring back curbside recycling collection.
Peoples is a former mechanic and small business owner who has been maintenance supervisor for the Westwego Police Department for 10 years, handling maintenance, billing and purchasing for the department’s vehicles and facilities.
Four of the five seats on the Westwego City Council are being contested in Saturday’s electi…
Elsewhere on the ballot, incumbent Councilman Norman Fonseca, a Democrat, and former two-term Councilwoman Lisa Valence, a Republican, are vying for the District 3 seat.
Valence, 65, was the District 3 representative from 2001 to 2009. The retired principal of Westwego Elementary School, she now teaches at Patrick Taylor Science and Technology Academy.
She said the city needs to offer better recreation options, support the entrepreneurial efforts of young adults and improve its drainage. She said she would work to improve the water pressure in the city south of the West Bank Expressway, a complaint of residents for years.
Fonseca, 71, touted his strong working relationship with the local legislative delegation, which is key to securing funding for local projects. He also touted his work trying to get the wharf project at the old airport started and pledged to keep working on the water pressure issue.
Fonseca won 42 percent of the vote in the primary, while Valence got 30 percent.
In District 5, Courtney Watts Reyes, who has no party affiliation, faces Johnnie Lynn Thibodeaux, a Republican.
Reyes, 33, is a licensed insurance agent and Westwego Housing Authority board member. She said she would work on improving roads and sidewalks and upgrading the city’s parks and playgrounds with new equipment and better maintenance.
Thibodeaux, 53, a legal secretary, said the city needs to work on cleaning up blighted housing and strengthening the relationship between city government and the Police Department.
In the primary, Reyes got 39 percent, while Thibodeaux took 34 percent.
Also in the primary, Councilman Johnny Nobles was re-elected to the District 2 seat and newcomer Matthew Rivere defeated incumbent Gary Toups in District 4. District 1 Councilman Glenn Green was automatically re-elected when he drew no challengers.