VIVIAN, LA (KSLA) - Two people born and raised in Vivian are vying to be the Caddo Parish town’s mayor.
Vivian Mayor Michael Van Schoick is not seeking re-election to that post but is in a three-way race for the Ward 2 alderman seat.
So town voters will be asked Nov. 6 to decide between Amanda Florence Austin, of the 500 block of Harrell Lane, and Ronnie Festavan, of the 300 block of Rebel Road, as their next mayor.
Austin, who listed no party affiliation when she qualified as a candidate, is a former Vivian police dispatcher who works as a clerk for the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Festavan, a Republican, is retired after having worked in various roles in Caddo School District, including as interim superintendent.
“I’ve prayed about it, and it wasn’t an easy decision," Austin said. “But I feel like if I want to see a change, then I have to be the one to step up and go out of my way to make sure the people’s concerns of Vivian are going to be addressed and going to be fixed.
“I am ready for a change in Vivian.”
Festavan said he’s volunteered more than 200 hours of community service to the town and wants to further his commitment to where his life began.
“I got involved in local politics (in Vivian) and saw a need for some experience and leadership. Some of the experiences I learned in the school system, I knew I could carry into the town,” he said.
“I moved back to Vivian, I chose to come back there. ... I have a vested interest in making Vivian the very best it can be.”
KSLA News 12 asked the two candidates to define the pressing problems and issues that town residents face daily.
“I would say property standards, also law, order and justice,” Austin said. “We’ve had a lot of burglaries in Vivian recently. We’ve also had a lot of murders; two of them are still unsolved murders.”
Festavan thinks Vivian needs to better address its declining population, which he said translates into a decline in revenue.
“We have to be smarter with our money, we have to use our money more wisely, we have to prioritize our spending and we have to make the most out of what we have.”
Austin noted that she would be Vivian’s first female mayor and, as such, could better shape the town’s culture.
“We’ve always had a man as a mayor. Let a woman take over; let’s see what they can do,” she said.
“I believe I may be young in this, but I’m young enough to get the job done and I’m old enough to know what needs to be done.”
Festavan has this message for voters before they head to the polls.
“Every vision has to have an action plan. A vision without an action plan is simply a dream," he said.
“We need to stimulate our growth, reaching out and trying to secure rural community development. ... We need the energy and the experience I have in working with lots of people in the school system.”