Although it’s nearly a year before next year’s mayoral primary, potential candidates for Shreveport’s top seat are starting to survey the political landscape at city hall.
Mayor Ollie Tyler can run for a second term. Although she has not publicly announced her intentions Tyler has held a low key re-election fundraising event with key supporters.
City Councilman Jerry Bowman confirmed in a recent interview that he has an exploratory committee assessing a potential mayoral bid. Bowman is serving his first term on the council and he will be the council chairman next year.
Former Mayor Cedric Glover now serves in the Louisiana House of Delegates. He has maintained a high profile in the last two years that fuels constant rumors of a 2018 mayoral race.
Willie Bradford, another first term Council member, has toyed with the idea of a campaign for mayor. At one time second term Councilman Jeff Everson was considering a mayoral bid. Both now say they will not run for mayor.
Tyler will be 73 in January of next year, and she appears to be in good health. If re-elected, she would be almost 78 at the end of her term. Her age could be a factor in a second mayoral campaign.
A Tyler campaign will no doubt emphasize a more “business like” government. She can cite substantial progress on completion of water and sewer projects mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency consent decree.
Tyler can also point to more efficiencies in government operations with a limited increase in her budgets. The City of Shreveport has less employees now than when Tyler assumed office in December 2013.
Two issues that any Tyler opponent will surely emphasize are the city’s crime rate and the water billing fiasco.
Tyler’s selection of Alan Crump as police chief has been the subject of controversy from day one. Crump is currently on administrative leave after, based on police descriptions, firing at two fleeing suspects in an alleged vehicle break-in.
Many citizens believe that neighborhood crime is a serious and growing problem. In politics, perception often becomes reality at the polls.
The city’s continuing water bill issues are seemingly out of control and nowhere near resolution. Residents are still receiving outrageously high bills that can not be justified by city officials.
And the litigation by Scott Pernici and Michael Wainwright is still progressing. Linn Bragg, who was Tyler’s mayoral campaign manager, figures unfavorably in some deposition testimony.
Bowman has dramatically raised his public profile by calling for the termination of Shreveport Police Department Chief Crump. It’s not clear whether this will help or hurt him in a mayoral campaign.
Bowman will undoubtedly face two questions if he runs for mayor. The first is a theft conviction that has now been expunged. The second is his failure to vote on Tyler’s sport complex. He attended the council meeting where the vote was taken, but he left the meeting shortly before the vote itself.
Much like his brother, Jerald, who is on the Caddo Parish Commission, Jerry has a built in political base that he “inherited” from his politically astute mother, Joyce Bowman. How much of his mom’s charisma will pull votes outside his district, and especially with white voters, is an open question.
Another major question for Bowman is his ability to raise funds from the “downtown establishment” that heavily supported Tyler in 2013. Another would arise if he associated his campaign with Braggs.
Glover, who now sports a white “billy goat” beard, has maintained a high presence on social media since leaving city hall. And he is responsible for the local hearings on the failure of Paul Elio to manufacture cars at the old GM plant.
Glover constantly reminds the public that he passed the largest bond issue in the city’s history. Glover believes that he, not Tyler, should get the credit, for the massive water and sewer construction projects throughout the City.
Glover is , no doubt, one of the best orators in the area and he would easily outshine Bowman or Tyler in a media campaign. His ability to raise funds probably exceeds Bowman’s, but how he would match up against Tyler in this category is an unknown.
Tyler’s proposed budget for 2018 includes a 5% pay raise for most city employees. This will be the first in ten years for many workers, a feat not accomplished by Glover. If the Council passes this pay hike, Tyler will be off to a good start in 2018, if she seeks re-election.
It is not too early to talk about next year’s mayor’s race. A serious candidate needs to have a campaign organization in place by March of next year, or sooner for a Tyler challenger. What happens at City Hall for the rest of the year will most likely influence, in a big way, next year’s mayoral candidate field.
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