Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan responds to critics

Michael Tortorich
The Donaldsonville City Council met last week at City Hall for the first time since March. Shown clockwise from left are: Council members Brent Landry, Reginald Francis Sr., Lauthaught Delaney Sr., Charles Brown Sr., City Clerk Sandra Capone, and Mayor Leroy Sullivan Sr. Council Chair Raymond Aucoin was absent.
Photo by Michael Tortorich

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan addressed recent criticism during his live update July 14 at City Hall.

The response came after the protest march and rally held July 11 in the city. More than 30 individuals marched from Church Street to Railroad Avenue, where a rally took place at the Bicentennial Jazz Plaza.

The organizers announced the mayor as the first speaker at the rally, though he was not in attendance. Speakers also made references to the mayor and council members during the rally.

“At no time did I say I was going to be at the protest, and at no time did the individuals that put the protest together give me or the council an agenda of what was going to be done at the protest,” Sullivan said.

The City Council unanimously approved a permit for the Community Care Committee event. During the special meeting, which was held the day before, the organizers initially refused to share the march route. 

Deputies with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office escorted the march out of concern for safety, as marchers walked on the heavily-traveled Marchand Drive. The main route through the city, the highway serves as a hub of sorts to Hwys. 1, 18, 70, and 308.

The event happened just months away from council and mayoral elections in the fall. 

Chatter on social media has suggested the current city leadership will face opposition in the upcoming election.

“If we want to move the City of Donaldsonville forward we have to have better communication and we have to put aside all differences in order to move the city forward,” Sullivan said. “I am available. I’ve always made myself available to anyone in the City of Donaldsonville. Whether they want to talk about issues, criticize, or whatever.”

He added that anyone can schedule a meeting with him or members of the council.

“There’s so much you may not know about city government. I’d be happy to sit down with anyone and give them all of the information they need, whether it’s the finances of the city, blighted property, or jobs. Whatever it is, we can sit down and talk about it. And we can agree to disagree, but let’s work together.”

In other matters last week, the mayor and council met in-person for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced officials to meet via teleconference. 

Everyone present wore a facial covering, and audience members sat at a distance. As a precaution, every attendee had their temperature checked upon entering. Also, city officials were protected by plexiglass dividers.

The agenda during the July 14 meeting included:

-- The council agreed to roll forward the 2020 millage rates, not exceeding the maximum authorized rates.

The millage for the City of Donaldsonville general fund is 6.52 mills, while the Donaldsonville Fire Department is 5 mills.

-- The council voted 4-0 to approve pump repairs to the Pump C force main at the corner of St. Vincent and Williams streets.

The change order for contractor Boone Services extends a $140,115.20 increase and additional 224 work days.

-- The mayor announced a public notice will be published in The Chief with instructions on applying for the Section 8 waiting list intake.

The notice must be published for two weeks before the phone number becomes active to applicants.

-- Council member Charles Brown has been outspoken about the recreation program on the west side of Ascension Parish.

The city has been in a $46,000 contract with the parish government to provide recreation programs.

“I think we need to be more involved,” Brown said. “I’ve been screaming for it for the last eight years.”

Members of the council planned to discuss the matter further during the next committee of the whole meeting.

-- Fire Chief Adam Gautreaux gave the monthly fire department report, which included a suspected arson.

Gautreaux said firefighters responded to the restroom fire at the baseball park at 717 Church Street. 

He said the fire was small, and the fire marshal has been investigating the incident.

Also noteworthy, Gautreaux said calls for service have been up through the first half of the year. 

Last year, the department received 1,496 calls. They have reached 982 already.

-- Captain Darryl Smith, who oversees the patrol division for the west bank of the parish, said deputies had no issues to report during the CCC march and rally.

He said the march began at 5:23 p.m., and the rally concluded at 6:54 p.m. without incident.

-- The Donaldsonville City Hall lobby has been closed due an exposure to coronavirus among one of the staff.

City business can be done online at donaldsonville-la.gov. The drop box is also available for bill payments.

For more information, call (225) 473-4247. For emergencies, call the after-hours numbers at (225) 806-8215 or (225) 806-0470.