May the best Candidate Win

DeRon Talley
Mayor Leroy Sullivan and candidate Erik Robinson stand together at the Lemann Center after the forum last Thursday night.

The Donaldsonville Chamber of Commerce hosted a political forum for candidates competing for office last Thursday at the Lemann Center.

Chamber member Malcolm Dugas served as the moderator for the evening and he allowed each candidate five minutes to talk about why the deserve votes.

The purpose of the forum was to provide the community with an opportunity to hear various candidates, learn about them and make an informed decision on Election Day.

Eight candidates took the podium over the course of the evening from all levels; nationals, state and local.

The two voices most of the audience wanted to hear were those of two who are competing to be Mayor of Donaldsonville; current Mayor Leroy Sullivan and his opponent Eric Robinson.

Robinson took the panel first and explained who he is and that is running for office because Donaldsonville has become a stagnant community. He said he is the best and most qualified candidate for the position.

"I'm able to create, I'm able to build from the ground up and establish a successful company," Robinson said.

Robinson asked what happens to water when it becomes stagnant? It starts to stink, it starts to decay, he said.

"That's not good for us."

Mayor Sullivan was the last to take the podium of the night, but he certainly wasn't left out. Mayor Sullivan, running for a third consecutive term, was the first mayor of Donaldsonville to be re-elected to consecutive terms in almost four decades.

"That speaks volume," Mayor Sullivan said about being serving consecutive terms. "The people in this community saw fit to give me the opportunity to continue to be their leader."

Mayor Sullivan talked about how he was able to "do more with less." He said being mayor of a city like Donaldsonville isn't always easy, especially with the economy taking a "nose dive." He was asked to reduce the hours of the city's work force to help balance budget. He said, he didn't cut anybody's hours and still was able to balance the budget.

"In my heart, I couldn't tell those making the bare minimum that you can only work 36 hours and that's it," Mayor Sullivan said standing in front of the podium, "and some of them are the sole bread winners of their families."

Mayor Sullivan said he took a chance and didn't cut those hours and last year the budget was still met.

"We made budget and we did because we worked together as a team."

Mayor Sullivan talked about how the city's leaders work together as a team for the benefit of Donaldsonville, to help it grow.

"You don't read anything in the paper about us fighting and scrapping at each other, we work as a team."

Also running for a Donaldsonville office is Mike Sullivan, who is competing to be City Councilman for District 5. Emile Spano, District 5's current Councilman, didn't attend the forum, and Sullivan tried to take advantage of that fact.

Sullivan talked about some of things he'd fight to improve around the city such as; economic development, attracting visitors, city beautification, and improvements on Railroad Avenue.

The local candidate voices were strong, but judges didn't hold back any in their speeches. The candidates for judge who spoke were: Judge John Michael Guidry, Judge Tim Kelly, Jeffrey Sanford and Mary Oliver Pierson. They showcased their platforms informing the audience of things they did not know about the judicial system and how they hope to impact it.

Running for U.S. Congress was Gary Landrieu of New Orleans. Landrieu was the only candidate of his race to attend the forum, despite it being in one of his opponent's, Dwayne Bailey, hometown.

Landrieu's guarantee to the audience: "I promise we come home with what belongs to Louisiana."

At the end of the forum, the moderator opened the floor to questions from the public. Citizens didn't hesitate to ask the two candidates running for mayor about their plans for education reform in the city.

Allison B. Hudson, President of the Chamber of Commerce, thought there was a good turnout of candidates and citizens in the audience. Planning an event like this, Hudson knew there was a possibility that the audience would be in scarce numbers, but she said she counted over 50 people, which she thought was great.

"Voting is one of the most important things that we as citizens can do. If we don't vote, we don't have a voice," Hudson said.

Hudson wasn't worried about the community knowing about the candidates running for local office, because they already seen them.

"I was more worried about the candidates running that Donaldsonville haven't seen yet or didn't know anything about their platforms, that is what I was worried about."

She said she particularly pleased with the judge's race for Supreme Court.

Hudson added: "I want to thank everyone who participated in the event both candidates and citizens."

"A special thanks to Fire Chief Chuck Montero for assisting with the sound system and to the city of Donaldsonville for help with setting up for the event."