The novel coronavirus outbreak has disrupted virtually every aspect of life in the Baton Rouge area, and municipal elections are no exception.

When Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced last week that the April 4 municipal primary was being pushed back to June 20, with a runoff date of July 25 if necessary, it opened up a potential can of worms.

Incumbent Baker Mayor Darnell Waites, for instance, has drawn two challengers -- fellow Democrats Joyce Burges and Leroy Davis.

Waites' current term expires June 30, so if there's a runoff and he isn't in it, would the city of Baker be without a mayor for a time?

The answer is no, Secretary of State's Office spokesman Tyler Brey said Tuesday. Brey acknowledged that the office has fielded questions concerning the runoff date falling after the expiration of some officeholders' terms.

Brey cited Louisiana Revised Statute 42:2, which states, "Every public officer in this state except in case of impeachment or suspension shall continue to discharge the duties of his office until his successor is inducted into office."

Waites is certainly hopeful that he'll win another term in office but says he would gladly serve beyond the expiration of his term if it came to that.

"I would do it. It wouldn't be a problem," he said. "I've been serving this country my whole life."

Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn, whose term also expires June 30, potentially finds himself in the same boat as the mayor. Dunn likewise is being challenged by fellow Democrats Willie Brooks and Louis Hamilton II.

Candidates whose terms expire in between the primary and general elections isn't a situation unique to East Baton Rouge Parish.

In neighboring East Feliciana Parish, five-term Jackson Mayor Charles Coleman is not seeking re-election, and three candidates have thrown their hats into the mayoral ring: Linda Karam, former Mayor James Norsworthy III and Junius "Pappy" Robillard.

If there's a runoff in that race, Coleman would have to serve until at least July 25.

"Whatever they say is what we've got to do," said Coleman, who is running for one of the five seats on the town's Board of Trustees.

He said, "I'm willing to do anything I can to help the community."

Three candidates also are running in Jackson for town marshal, including first-term incumbent Mark Dousay and former marshals Fred Allen and "Ray Bubba" Allen.

Early voting for the municipal primary is June 6-13, with the exception of Sunday, June 7.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.