Candidates decline invitation to Donaldsonville election forum

Michael Tortorich

Several challengers to incumbents in City of Donaldsonville seats declined participation in an election forum held Oct. 14.

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan speaks during the Donaldsonville Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 election forum at the Lemann Memorial Center Oct. 14. Sullivan was the only mayoral candidate to attend.

Every incumbent on the city council and the mayor, as well as most of the candidates running for constable and justice of the peace, attended the event put on at the Lemann Memorial Center by the Donaldsonville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Executive Director Juanita Pearley said many residents did not know the new candidates or their platforms. She said she reached out to all of the candidates, extending invitations.

“I’m sorry to say some of the candidates declined to participate. I was very heartbroken by that. I thought all of the candidates should be known to the public,” Pearley said.

The constable candidates for the First Justice Court kicked off the forum, each allowed three minutes to share their platform. Robert Gibson, Murray Walker, and Jeffrey Henry all addressed the audience.

Tamiko Francis Garrison and Charles Sanders both presented their platforms in the race for justice of the peace for First Justice Court. Dwayne Bailey did not attend. Pearley said Andrew Falcon was unable to attend due to a previous engagement.

Donaldsonville District 1 incumbent Lauthaught Delaney addressed the crowd. His challenger, Russell Gray, declined to participate, Pearley said.

District 2 incumbent Raymond Aucoin, who has served as the council’s chair, also spoke. Pearley said Kurt Mitchell and Jessica Wade Washington both declined to participate, and David Hambrick did not respond.

District 3 council member Reginald Francis also spoke during the forum. His challenger, Shentelle “Lou” Daigle was disqualified by a judgement finding her registered residence to be outside of the city limits.

District 4 incumbent Charles Brown presented his platform. Both of his challengers, Trevis Fernandez and David Joseph, declined to participate, according to Pearley.

Current District 5 council member Brent Landry chose not to run for his seat this year. Thomas “Moose” Pearce introduced his background and platform. His opponent, Michael Sullivan, did not respond to the invitation, Pearley said.

Mayor Leroy Sullivan was the only candidate in attendance for the mayoral race. Pearley said Glenn Price declined to participate, and Travis London could not be reached.

Sullivan said he and the current council members have developed relationships with government and business leaders over the years. Key progress has been made by the mayor and council through infrastructure improvements, such as road, sewer, and natural gas projects.

“We do more with less. We don’t have a lot of money coming through, but we spend it well,” Sullivan said.

Over the summer, a group called the Donaldsonville Community Care Committee formed and held a protest march and rally in the city, presenting itself in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. During the rally, some of the members of the group announced themselves as candidates in the Nov. 3 election. 

Price, Gray, Mitchell, Daigle, and Fernandez have been endorsed by the group.

Some of the speakers at the July rally chided the mayor and council members for not attending the event, which the council approved a permit for during a special meeting.

A Facebook flyer posted by 504 Radio host Eric Jones shows the four DCCC candidates scheduled as guests on the Oct. 20 “virtual public town hall” livestreamed podcast. The program was set to broadcast after press time for this publication.