Longtime East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk Doug Welborn won his eighth consecutive four-year term, surpassing outgoing Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis in vote totals Saturday evening.
Welborn, a Republican, has served as the parish's clerk of court since 1991. He said that if he was reelected he would strive to keep customer service at the forefront of the office's operations. The clerk of court is responsible for multiple administrative functions, including issuing marriage licenses, administering elections, and processing civil suits.
Collins-Lewis, a Democrat in her third and final term on the Metro Council, took aim during the campaign at fiscal management and investigations into the use of credit cards at the office.
Welborn countered by pointing out those investigations found no criminal negligence on his part and said he had addressed many of the concerns raised by state auditors.
The probe into the Clerk of Court's Office mostly occurred after a 2016 audit revealed the office had routinely spent tens of thousands of dollars in public funds on meals, hotel rooms, storage space and much more over the years.
Allegations also surfaced that Welborn had leaned on employees to give him money and gifts on holidays, his birthday and for his reelection campaign — which he has denied.
While an audit released the following year noted the Clerk's office was no longer charging taxpayers for expensive meals, state auditors still dinged the office for lacking financial safeguards, such as failing to keep track of equipment, leaving cash unsecured during the day, and payroll duties not being properly administered.
Welborn said he asked the state's Legislative Auditor's Office to conduct an investigation into his office after the allegations of misconduct surfaced in 2015. He also said that since the audit reports, he and his office staff have worked to address the items auditors dinged them for and they have had "solid reports since then."
"Our last three years of audits and budget balances have been positive, with every effort made to utilize staffing and technology to make our operations as fiscally effective as possible," he said. "Though our office is almost completely self-funded and depends on virtually no tax money, we make it a primary mission to be good stewards of these public dollars."
Welborn has pledged to continue monitoring expenses and to seek the best prices and rates for goods and services.
EDUCATION: LSU graduate
PROFESSIONAL: Former iron worker; former owner of an insurance agency
POLITICAL CAREER: EBR Metro Councilman (1981-91); Clerk of Court (1991-present)