There were few surprises when Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover and Shreveport City Councilman David Wooley squared off in their first mayoral forum since they finished as winner and first runner-up respectively in a field of seven candidates for Shreveport’s top job in the Oct. 2 primary election.
Sponsored by the Broadmoor Neighborhoods Association and held at Broadmoor Presbyterian Church, the candidates were asked to answer questions submitted in writing by the audience just prior to the forum. Questions centered around issues addressed at forums prior to the primary, and most were answered with familiar rhetoric.
With 31 percent of the primary vote, Wooley lagged far behind incumbent Glover, who garnered 45 percent of the vote, just shy of the 50 percent-plus-one vote necessary to avoid a runoff in November.
Glover began his opening remarks by listing a litany of successes since he was elected in 2006, scoring a direct hit against the previous administration.
Without mentioning the name of Keith Hightower, the two-term mayor who preceded him, Glover said when he became mayor four years ago, the city was “about a billion dollars in debt.”
Despite that problem, as well as a national recession, Glover claimed to have reduced the city’s debt while maintaining an A-plus bond rating. He added that crime in Shreveport is at a 34-year low, and 43 new police officers and 12 new fire fighters have been added during his administration.
Throughout the earlier campaign, Wooley, a one-term city councilman, hammered away at economics, and his opening volleys were no exception. He discounted the city’s hiring of new police and fire personnel, saying they were paid for with $4 million from “Obama’s supplement” and that when the money was gone, there was no plan to replace it. He added that Shreveport police are paid $15,000 less annually than the national average, and $10,000 less than the Southern average.
From there, Wooley launched into what has become the linchpin of his campaign – the misuse of public funds, specifically $700,000 in unpaid parking fees at Shreveport Regional Airport, and $900,000 paid to a consulting firm owned by Glover “crony” Lillian Priest, in which, Wooley claimed “less than three percent of the work was done.” He claimed that the Federal Aviation Administration called the (Shreveport) Airport Authority to have them kill the contract, but nobody from the Airport Authority could get anyone at the Mayor’s office to either answer or return their calls.
While Wooley claimed “gross malfeasance in managing the airport,” Glover said in an effort “to try to appoint new individuals to the airport authority, Bryan blocked me.” He added that Wooley’s claims were “last minute desperation tactics” and that Priest’s firm was selected by bids submitted by three qualified vendors.
Wooley was adamant that the city should be enlisting the aid of private businesses and civic organizations in the private sector to help with various city projects, Glover said many quality of life issues have been addressed by the redistribution of manpower. In addition, Glover said many issues requiring capital outlay will be addressed in a bond proposal.
On a personal note, Wooley, who is divorced, was asked if a protective order had ever been filed against him. Though he did not answer the question, he did launch into the story of his failed marriage “to a beautiful woman” the birth of two children, their subsequent divorce and now good relationship with his former wife.
Glover, who is married, rushed to defend his opponent saying, “Divorce is a very personal, messy thing – things are said back and forth; they cannot be judged as a true reflection.”