Donaldsonville challengers appear on podcast after declining election forum invitation

Michael Tortorich

Some of the candidates in the City of Donaldsonville races opted to participate on a podcast last week after declining to attend an election forum at the Lemann Memorial Center.

Candidates who declined an invitation to the Donaldsonville Area Chamber of Commerce election forum appeared on a podcast last week to share their platforms.

The Donaldsonville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the forum Oct. 14. Every incumbent on the city council and the mayor attended the event, sharing their platforms and answering questions. Candidates in the constable and justice of the peace races also spoke during the forum.

At the time, Executive Director Juanita Pearley said all of the candidates were invited. Some did not respond, while others declined, she said.

Mayoral challenger Glenn Price, along with council candidates Trevis Fernandez and Kurt Mitchell, appeared on the 504 Radio podcast Oct. 20. All three candidates were among those who declined the chamber’s invitations, according to Pearley.  

Price faces the current mayor, Leroy Sullivan, and candidate Travis London. Fernandez and David Joseph, who both declined to attend the chamber forum, are challenging District 4 incumbent Charles Brown. Mitchell, David Hambrick, and Jessica Wade Washington, who also declined Pearley’s invitation, are taking on District 2 incumbent Raymond Aucoin.

The show’s host, Eric Jones, introduced the moderator, Charie Worley, who holds a doctoral degree in education from Southeastern Louisiana University. Worley previously served as an assistant principal at Donaldsonville High School. She said she currently works in East Baton Rouge Parish.

“I’m not really political,” Worley said in her introduction. “I’m not a fan of politics. Whoever becomes councilman, whoever becomes mayor, just know we are trusting you to be the voice for those who may not be at the table, for the voiceless. There are certain things we may not know or see that may go on in the shadows.”

First, Fernandez and Mitchell presented their platforms and answered questions.

Later, Price put forth his vision for the city, which includes using “municipal enterprise” to capitalize on the historic district. He proposed the city should buy a building and own a hotel and restaurant, modeled like the City of Dallas, which owns the Omni Hotel.

Price said certain families and business interests keep major retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s from locating on the west bank, referencing family-owned home improvement businesses Kocke’s and Donaldsonville Ace Hardware. 

“First and Last Chance (Cafe) doesn’t want Golden Corral in Donaldsonville. That would put them out of business practically,” he said.

Price said the nearly 80 percent Black population are victims of that type of “focus and concentration,” citing it as a reason for the city’s slow growth and lack of high-paying jobs.

“We have a culture here where a few families are controlling things,” he said.

On Oct. 25, Price posted a letter to his Facebook page where he addressed a postcard mailed out to voters by Fork PAC.

The card shows news clippings from The Donaldsonville Chief and The Advocate, which both previously published articles about his arrest for principal to felony theft in April 2018.

In the letter, he states his court date has been rescheduled 19 times.

Prosecutors in West Baton Rouge Parish have accused Price of being involved in a scheme to defraud Louisiana Scrap Metal in Port Allen of $64,433.96 between Nov. 2017 and Jan. 31, 2018. Prosecutors have said video recordings and receipts have been collected in the case.  

Price also referred to the previous publication of his criminal record, which includes arrests in Harris County, Texas in both 1988 and 1990 for possession of a Group 1 controlled substance. Records show he was sentenced to three years confinement. Other charges in later years were dismissed.

Price wrote that he has grown and matured after making mistakes earlier in life.