Voters in East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana parishes will see several mayoral races on their ballots for the July 11 election.
Early voting for that election is ongoing through July 4.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, state officials postponed the April 4 election until July 11, which will still include Republican and Democrat Party presidential primary selections.
Baker will see a three-way race between incumbent Mayor Darnell “DA-1” Waites, former mayor Leroy Davis and former city council member Joyce Burges, who currently serves on the school board. All three candidates qualified to run as Democrats.
The race sets up a rematch between Waites and Davis. In 2016, Waites defeated the former mayor by a nearly 21% margin.
Davis, 75, served as mayor from 2001 to 2004 and worked as an adjunct economics professor at Southern University and Upper Iowa University. In 2016, both he and Waites campaigned on platforms centered on economic development and cleaning up city finances, amid declining cash reserves.
Waites, a 59-year-old Army veteran, said economic development is still among his priorities for the city as he seeks a second term.
He touted building of the city’s first Red Cross shelter and the recent development of a transit center connecting Baker to Baton Rouge.
Waites said he plans to continue his focus on creating more mixed-use business and residential areas along the future transit corridor.
“We want to be a part of the growth and add more value to the city,” Waites said. “We have a lot of opportunities here.”
Burges, too, says she sees the need to attract new businesses to the area and, if elected, she plans to do so by increasing the focus on cleaning up the city. She added that she sees room to better communicate utility fees and city finances to residents.
“I want to bring Baker back to what it was, but I want to make it so much better,” said Burges, 61.
Davis didn’t return messages seeking comment on his campaign.
An outright victory in the primary would be a challenge for any candidate because they would need to attract more than 50% of voters’ support.
Races for mayor in Slaughter and Jackson are open after the municipalities’ incumbent mayors declined to seek reelection.
After more than 20 years in office, Jackson Mayor Charles Coleman is not seeking reelection and instead is running for one of the five seats on the town's Board of Trustees.
Linda Karam, an independent, James Norsworthy III, a Democrat, and Junius "Pappy" Robillard, a non-party candidate, are seeking Coleman's position.
Karam, 62, a real estate broker, said she plans to focus on improving the town's infrastructure, as well as continuing to promote Jackson as a destination for tourism.
She touted her work as a real estate broker and leadership on the Jackson Tourist Enhancement Committee as vital experience for accomplishing some of those goals.
“We just need to refresh and revitalize,” Karam said.
Robillard, 40, says he too sees a similar need, especially with improving the town’s appearance.
For years, he's raised concerns about the town falling behind in enforcing ordinances, leading to stacks of junk piled in yards and homes in disrepair — a turnoff for businesses and people who want to move to the town.
“We just got to get all the blight out,” Robillard said.
Norsworthy, a 69-year-old lifelong Jackson resident, said in a statement that among his priorities are to maintain the city’s financial integrity.
A few miles southeast of Jackson, voters in Slaughter will be asked to fill an open mayor’s seat after incumbent Mayor Robbie Jackson decided against seeking re-election.
Running for the position are City Alderman and Mayor Pro Temp Janis Landry, a Republican, and Melissa Davis, a non-party candidate.
Davis, 46, criticized city leaders for declining to provide residents with information after a Slaughter police officer punched the town’s fire chief at a gas station last summer. She said she’s been displeased in other instances where town leaders are unable to provide timely answers for residents’ questions on other matters.
“My hope is to try to fix and keep an open-door policy and be transparent and accountable for the people of Slaughter,” Davis said.
Landry declined to comment about her bid for mayor.
In Norwood, Becky Bellue, a Democrat, is seeking her fourth term as mayor against Republican Jimmy McCaa.
Early voting continues Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. until July 4, except Sunday, June 28.
Runoff races, if needed, will be held in the Aug. 15 general election.